Judt on words, Shafer on bogusity

People prattle on about the supposed rivalry of print and online. This supposed competition will fade away as portable screens become gradually get closer and closer to being like paper, as tablets and iPad-like devices slim down and become more robust and optically easier on the eye.

This artificially-enhanced “battle” is much less significant than the threat posed to words as a medium of information in the public sphere. The web is a carrier of words, audio and video. Is there a risk that words, which can encode more complex and many-layered meanings than sound and picture, will get drowned out? I fervently hope not. This blog is partisan for words.

Sadly, we may not have too many words to come from Tony Judt, the British-born historian who wrote Postwar, the brilliant history of Europe in the second half of the twentieth century. As he writes from his wheelchair, “in the grip of a neurological disorder, I am fast losing control of words even as my relationship with the world has been reduced to them”. So cherish Judt’s hymn to words while we still can.

Trend-spotting tends to turn up new words or at least neologisms. Jack Shafer of Slate has developed a strong line in fake-spotting in trend-spotting. Here he sticks it to the New York Times for its “bogusity”. Yes, my dictionary offers “bogusness” as well, but who cares. Bogusity might just be a good enough invention to take over.

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