[Humanist] 24.771 language

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Mar 10 08:10:13 CET 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 771.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2011 07:02:14 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: language

Something just read to share.

Lynsey Hanley (a name to follow), in her introduction to the Penguin 
edition of Richard Hoggart's great book, The Uses of Literacy: Aspects 
of Working-Class Life (2009/1957), writes thus about Hoggart's use 
of language:

> ... the easy command of language, built by curiosity and education,
> seems to bleed out sentimentality from all experience. If you can
> make language dance to your tune, rather than having to dance, or
> jump up, to it, you are on the way to being free. You no longer
> expect to be at the mercy of events because, if you can't in some way
> shape their course, then you can manage their effects. You haven't
> only got 'them' to contend with, you've got 'us', your own people,
> keeping you in line. Not keeping you down exactly, but keeping you
> chopped and shaped like a tin of York ham. Square pegs needn't get
> their corners shaved off if they can learn to incorporate both halves
> of their experience into an integral whole. (p. xxiii)

Although what needs bleeding out in our case is not sentimentality, and 
what our lot needs freedom from is different that of those whom Hoggart 
had and Hanley has in mind, these words apply with force to one of 
Humanist's founding missions, perhaps its central one. If care with 
the language and, yes, even the formatting of announcements of events, 
publications and all the rest can be achieved, then we too are on that 
way. Or so this editor of messages would like to think.


Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, www.mccarty.org.uk;
Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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