It is a common human affectation these days to pretend that we’re a global village, and the only thing holding us back from embracing each other warmly is the odd linguistic difficulty. This is of course utter tosh.
Take, for example, the ridiculous idea that speaking English represents a commonality.
A lot of Brits stay up late and pretend they like American football. It is the sporting version of Mornington Crescent in my opinion, in that nobody in the UK really understands it: some bloke shouts a lot of numbers, zaps the ball backwards, and – as a tall black bloke behind him gets ready to throw the pill two miles forward – twenty blokes try to create a car-wreck without the cars.
I don’t get it, but then the Yanks don’t get rugger either. An American client of mine taken to a rugby international at Twickenham simply could not understand the concept of a sport where throwing the ball forward was foul play. For most Brits, watching British footie is exciting, whereas viewing American Football is like reading a pc instruction manual online.
The organic development of linguistics merely reduces the level of mutual comprehension.
I wonder how many Sloggers remember when, in a bygone age, Americans used words like ‘swell’ and ‘phony’? I think phony has dropped out of use now because almost everyone in the world is a phony, but ‘swell’ always had a wonderful innocence for me – and a degree of sophistication at the same time. ‘Swell’ was what people like Frank Sinatra said. The other good thing about swell was you knew what it meant, because it had an opposite: a swell guy was better than an asshole. By contrast, I had not a clue what pickup, levee, chevy, bayou, hooker, and nickelodeon meant. But when a 1950’s American said “That’s just swell” or “He’s a swell guy”, he meant it, and I got it.
The end of using ‘phony’ heralded the end of the Age of Real. Now everything is leveraged, spun and presented as a lot more (or less) than it is. This dysfunctional way of thinking has caused the current financial and fiscal mess in which we find ourselves in the West. Nobody seems able any more to pinpoint a term like “jobless recovery”, and assert that it’s like saying “victoryless war”.
What we also entered about 30 years ago was the Age of Un. Students of Orwell’s novel 1984 will know that political deviants airbrushed out of history were referred to as Unpersons. All the more ironic in many ways that Joe McCarthy chose to call his Star Chamber The House Committee on Unamerican Activities. Today we have politically incorrect; it’s the same control-freak bogey man bollocks.
But Un is everywhere. Between them, the Eurogroupe Troika members have created an overall situation in Greece with unreal timelines, unachievable economic goals, unsustainable debt, and unstable democracy.
The UK Guardian specialises in suggesting that the unreasonable is undeniable: it’s about as engaging and enjoyable an experience as gangrene these days, and because of this the paper has been losing readers consistently since 2009.
I don’t know if the Scott Trust (which owns the increasingly Little G) can afford to bailout The Guardian forever, but as long as the likes of Polly Toynbee and George Monbiot continue in their determination to be unbelievable, its circulation will plumb new and hitherto unimaginable depths.
Is there a point to this ramble. Well obviously, I think there is: if even a shared language between two allies – or the opposing political devotees of one small country – cannot begin to comprehend what on Earth each other is on about, then why in God’s name does anyone in their right mind believe in a global village where we all respond similarly to the same values, the same news, the same religious beliefs, and the same Coke commercial?
It’s an insult to our intelligence. And it should be resisted by all sane human beings.