The word change is very powerful, it has and continues to be used over and over again in our society today. We know that words change all the time and over time, a process language experts describe as “semantic shift,” semantics being the field of language concerned with meaning. Even if we may not recognize it, such change in meaning is all around us, influenced by social, political, religious, economic and technological forces. Many words we use every day meant something quite different 10, 100 or 1,000 years ago.
But before you get carried away by change, what is change? What does it mean to change and what is the other word for change? George Orwell in the politics and the English Language notes;
“Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes”.
Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible.
Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.
The Vote for Change tour was a politically motivated American popular music concert tour that took place in October 2004. The tour was presented by MoveOn.org to benefit America Coming Together. The tour was held in swing states and was designed to encourage people to register and vote. Though the tour and the organization were officially non-partisan, many of the performers urged people to vote against then President George W. Bush and for John Kerry in the 2004 election campaign Bush would defeat Kerry in November 2004. President Obama’s campaign used the word change to create a movement that for the first time in America, an African American became president of the United States of America. Vote for Change continues to be a favorite quote among the political class, that brings them to power or takes the power away from them.
We the people have become captive of the word change, that makes us choose who to elect in office and who to kick out of office. Is change the basis of our decisions? Should it be always?