January 23, 2007


That is, a Sign (or Signs) of the Apocalypse.

Here's Ted Widmer on the 75th anniversary of The American Scholar (published by Phi Beta Kappa), in that magazine's Winter 2007 issue, p. 33:

Will there be a 100th anniversary?  All indications from the publishing industry suggest that content is declining, paper is vanishing, and erudite sexless commentary is especially suicidal.  Sound bites are shrinking, attention spans narrowing, and public language is degraded 24/7, from the vapid ad slogan to the lying speech to the vowelless text message.  The ultimate paradox of our instantaneous, borderless world may be that we have achieved a perfect system of communication only to discover that we have nothing to say.

Supply here wailing, gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and clanging of the bells of the Church of the Trope of Decline.  If only people would supply evidence; I truly doubt that ad slogans were less vapid or lying speech less prevalent fifty or a hundred years ago.  Vowelless (or vowel-scanty) text messages I'll grant -- but is this actually a degradation?

In any case, we here at Language Log Plaza are committed to continuing our erudite sexless commentary.  And some other stuff too.  Call us suicidal.

Posted by Arnold Zwicky at January 23, 2007 08:24 PM