Use & Abuse of Language

It is a short walk between linguistic priggery and the verbal bows and scrapes expected of us in talking about the great and the good. That thought nagged at me some months back at a symposium on “Freedom of Religion in the Age of Pope Francis.” To kick-start discussion, panelists were asked to say two things about Francis. Each was allotted a single yea and a single nay. A double yea might have been okay but, please, no double nays. Not even a stand-alone one. Continue Reading
Language Most Foul

Vulgarity, too, is in the eye of the beholder. Oscar Wilde acknowledged as much when he remarked: “Vulgar behavior is the behavior of other people.” Wilde’s admonition is worth keeping in mind—a mortification-in-waiting. As we have been told, God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. But while we keep an obliging eye out for our own vulgarities, it would be a shame to overlook everyone else’s. So stay with me a bit. •   •   •   •  When the temperature hits 90° I am ready to curse the heat myself. Continue Reading