Monday, October 22, 2007

Strictly Speaking. Edwin Newman. Significant Sentences 05.

Significant sentences from Edwin Newman's Strictly Speaking, blunt criticism of Americans' use of the English language.

How's this for gobbledygook and jargon from educated people who should know better?

"In June, 1974, Hampshire College in South Amherst, Massachusetts graduated its first class. Plans for the college were set out in December 1966, as a 'working paper,' and these were some of the positions taken:

"...that social structure should optimally be the consonant patterned expression of culture; that higher education is enmeshed in a congeries of social and political change; that the field of the humanities suffers from a surfeit of leeching, its blood drawn out by verbalism, explication of text, Alexandrian scholiasticism and the exquisite preciosities and pretentiousness of contemporary literary criticism; that a formal curriculum of academic substance and sequence should not be expected to contain mirabilia which will bring all the educative ends of the college to pass, and that any formal curriculum should contain a high frangibility factor, that the College hopes that the Hampshire student will have kept within him news of Hampshire's belief that individual man's honorable choice is not between immolation in a senseless society or withdrawal into the autarchic self but instead trusts that his studies and experience in the College will confirm for him the choice that only education allows; detachment and skill enough to know, engagement enough to feel, and concern enough to act, with self and society in productive interplay, separate and together, that an overzealous independence reduces linguistics to a kind of cryptographic taxonomy of linguistic forms, and that the conjoining of other disciplines and traditional linguistics becomes most crucial as problems of meaning are faced in natural language; and that the College expects its students to wrestle most with questions of the human condition, which are, What does it mean to be human? How can men become more human? What are human beings for?"

Incredible! Try summarizing that in a single sentence.

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