Academic Language And The Problem Of Meaninglessness

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It’s so easy to lose track of the meaning of words. Say any word enough times and it becomes a mere sound, its semantic content steadily evaporating with each additional usage (“anthill…anthill…anthill…”) Some words, such as “democracy,” “justice,” and “fascism,” can eventually turn into little more than empty praise or pejorative, essentially the equivalent of declaring “Hooray for this thing!” or “Boo to that thing.”

 

But, and this should go without saying, if people are actually trying to communicate with one another their words need to have meaning, and we need to have relatively fixed and identifiable definitions for concepts and actions.