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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Moxie dies in dorkness

Now we're getting propaganda in our dictionaries. Give us more. I mean less.

Y ou might not ever use Google Mistranslate to translate anything, but there are lots of people who do, and there are a lot of parasitical sites that simply feed your queries back to it and parrot back whatever it says. This paradoxically makes ol' G-Miss seem more authoritative. Alas, I'm having trouble with it.

There's an old saying: Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur (whatever is said in Latin sounds profound). That's probably because early Bibles were always in Latin, so it came to be associated with mystery and magic. Alchemists made good use of it, and it's why when Harry Potter utters a magic spell, it's always in Latin.

Some of them, like abracadabra, sound made up, but it's actually an Aramaic term meaning “I create as I speak”. Alchemists were supposed to say this several times while carrying out a reaction. We tend to forget how much chemistry owes to the invention of the clock.

Lab timer
Say ‘abracadabra’ 600 times while spinning around, or get one of these

G-Miss translates conservative into Latin as optimatium, which according to the North Dakota site —an excellent dictionary— actually means aristocrat, patrician, wellborn. To see conservativus and conservativum you have to click for alternatives.

Most language dictionaries have examples of usage. Until recently, all Chinese-English dictionaries from the mainland had usage examples like this one for benxing (“inherent nature”): “By their very nature imperialism and social-imperialism mean war.” Another word was illustrated by the sentence “During the War of Liberation we wiped out a total of eight million reactionary KMT troops.”

The Chicoms eventually realized that defining their language in terms of mass slaughter looks unprofessional, and they've since dropped them. But the temptation to bake politics into the language seems irresistible, especially for the left.

I'm certainly no Latin scholar, but I know when I'm getting a nix negotium (snow job, I think). So when Google tells me racism (raccismus) translates as amplificandae studium, which the North Dakota site says means enlarged eagerness or increased devotion, I have to wonder.

Then there's the usage example.

The most inflexible form of racism holds that race is determined biologically.

Whut thuh frickin heck? Or as Taciturnus might say, Quid in frickinum infernum? (And yes, I know Latin has some great swear words, specifically in Catullus, but I'm not going to repeat them here.) And that's after an hour trying to decide whether it's quid or quod. They don't teach this stuff anymore in school. Of course we might not need it: my former boss once said the only thing he remembered was Illegitimi non carborundum (don't let the bastards grind you down). He wasn't pleased when I told him it wasn't real Latin.

The quote is attributed to Kevin Passmore in Fascism: A Very Short Introduction (2nd ed). Maybe G-Miss just slurped it off somebody's Android. But as for the meaning, well . . . isn't it contradictory? How else could race be determined? By popular vote? If so, and if there's no such thing as race, how can there still be racism?

A bad translation is one thing, but do we have to have propaganda in everything? These days politics and propaganda are harder to avoid than cheese at a McDonald's.

Race and biology

What do real biologists think? Is race a real thing or a mere political convention? For the most part they punt, not discussing it much at all except insofar as a variable in patient records.

There are 22,792 articles with race or racial in the title in the biology literature. Most consider it equivalent to ethnicity, which is of course genetic. One group discovered that whites and females are more likely to die from MS, but blacks die from it at an earlier age, and the trend for blacks is increasing. Another group found that DNA and protein sequence differences between races cause different outcomes in certain types of cancer.

I couldn't find any that discuss whether race is real. This seems to be a concern only among left-dominated institutions like social criticism, who use it as a way of flogging divisions among the population. That's a polite way of saying they use it to create hate.

Democracy dries in dorkness

I sometimes make fun of Amazon's newspaper The Washington Post, and especially their motto “Democracy dies in darkness.” (Hence this site's new motto Science dies in unblogginess.) The Post's motto sounds like it comes from that old vampire TV show Dark Shadows: Democracy dies in darkness, bleah!

If you visit the DC area, you know the locals pronounce it ‘moxie.’ When I first moved there they sent me on a wild goose chase looking for Moxie Avenue. Luckily there was a gigantic green sign across the street with the correct name on it, and I figured it out. Although pronouncing dark as dork is more of a Philadelphia thing, some of 'em do that too. That makes the motto Moxie Dies In Dorkness. As mottoes go, it's more true than the original.

It also strikes me as evidence that as an ideology grows increasingly bankrupt, they start scraping the bottom of the intellectual barrel. And at the very bottom, beneath those soggy copies of Mein Kampf and Das Kapital there's a dictionary that describes how they'd like our world to be. Sneaking their politics into the dictionary just makes communication between groups a little harder, and that seems to be its purpose.

jan 27 2018, 5:19 am

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