(First published on NewsYaps)
The Language Revolt has broken out, ladies and gentlemen. This is a battle for Human Civilisation as we know it.
The Words have risen.
To avoid any confusion, I will begin at the beginning and then go on till I reach the end. I will then stop.
Mankind’s history has been a long saga of man ruling over man. This social system is responsible for all order, all that’s good and all progress. But keeping this order intact is not easy, my friends. It requires hard work, brains and, most of all, language. For all of human history, language has been a perfect slave for the Rulers. You can have all the guns, tanks and armies in the world but your rule will be little less than a blimp if you do not have the Words fighting by your side. Whoever controls the Words has, throughout history, controlled the world.
But how, you ask?
An old master once remarked:” When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean”. We Rulers have perfected the art and science of controlling Words. The meanings of Words have been twisted, contorted and, in some cases, reinvented altogether to help control the Ruled. Armies and tanks control via force; and force, as Gandhiji has shown, is weak—it’s temporary and ephemeral. To really control people you need to mess with their tiny little heads. And for that we have Words. These little slave soldiers of ours go in and lock onto your brains. And from then on, we own you. You think what we want you to and, consequently, do what we want you to. Muhahaha! (the laugh’s corny, I know, but come on, it’s fun).
You don’t believe me do you? You think this is some kooky joke. You think I’m just making it all up like those IPL matches? Don’t worry, I have proof.
Democracy: What does it mean? Who does it benefit? Where do we get it? You’d think this was an easy one, right? Naah. “Democracy” is what the US imports into Iraq as it bombs it into rubble. “Democracy” is what India brings to the tribals in its forests as it strips the land of its minerals.
You see what we did there? We took an innocuous, well-meaning word and used it to mess with your brains, all so that we could propagate our rule. Smart, no?
But of course, all that’s coming to end! All of it! The bloody Words have stopped listening! They’ve suddenly developed a mind of their own; maybe even a conscience. They say they’ll only mean what they mean from now on. They won’t listen to us.
Which is why all we have now is chaos.
Just the other day, the US president wanted to praise his army of occupation in Iraq. “As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it,” is what he wanted to say.
But instead of “Freedom” what he said was “oil supplies”.
“As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our oil supplies are only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.”
“Freedom” had had enough. It refused to comply. Obama was left dumbfounded. All his protestations, his anger was futile. Everyone knows you can’t threaten a Word. It’s too powerful.
And this spread across the world. In India, on Facebook, the word “Equality” revolted when used by a certain Mr Ravi Singh as he posted his third anti-reservation post of the day. “We want equality in college admissions” is what he wanted to post but the phrase “but want to conveniently paper over thousands of years of inequality” somehow got added on. You should have seen the look on his face.
The word “terrorism” now attaches itself to all acts of political violence even if the perpetrator is White or even a rioter from Gujarat. Indian politicians regularly trip up now when they use the word “justice”. Most of the times, they are unable to say anything and sometimes they end up saying “injustice” in its stead.
Indian families have stopped calling their daughters betaa and Fair and Lovely ads seem to be unable to use the word “beauty” when describing the after effects of their products.
McDonald’s, particularly, has been badly affected. Its slogan now is, “I’m meh-ing it”. “Low fat” chips have now become “low fat but still high calorie” chips. And Coke’s “Open Happiness” has become “Open Fatness”. Even the “Married yet innocent” matrimonial ads haven’t gotten away. The word “innocent” has been variously replaced by words such as “virgin” and even “recipient of hymen reconstructive surgery”.
It’s chaos, ladies and gentlemen, chaos.
A long time back, a certain Mr George Orwell (of Motihari, Bihar) had remarked that political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
And was he right. Imagine where humanity would be without a little bit of respectable murder and some gas. This Language Revolt is the end, ladies and gentlemen. I tell you, it’s the end.