Let the meaning choose the word
At a recent Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, the host asked each candidate to describe himself in a single word, and we got consistent, cheerful, to name a few. Back in 2000, Saturday Night Live played off this very idea with fake Al Gore declaring “Lock box” and fake George Bush proclaiming “Strategery.” To be sure, it’s a gimmicky kind of thing, but it can also be a good exercise in synthesis.
In his “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell famously called on writers and thinkers to practice the linguistic discipline of letting “the meaning choose the word.” We do not need to think very broadly to cite examples of sloppy or exaggerated thinking where words seem to mean anything the writer or speaker wants. I also recall Jay Forrester once proclaiming that a hallmark of system dynamics was that it…
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