In Defense of Archaisms

The Imaginative Conservative | 9/14/2019 | Joseph Pearce
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Archaisms renew the language; they are the means by which language is renovated and restored to its original splendor. It is the old things that make all things new.

The “coming peril” was not Bolshevism, G.K. Chesterton said in 1927, only ten years after the Bolshevik Revolution, it was “standardization by a low standard.” For Chesterton, ever the prophet, the surest way of destroying a utopia was to try to put it into practice. He knew that communism could never be anything but a tyranny and that its monstrous flaws would become evident once it had the power to expose its inherent wickedness. A far greater peril was to be found in the rise of “vulgarity,” the dumbing-down of everything to a lowest common denominator of mindless mediocrity. Today, almost a century later, we have seen the “coming peril” come to pass in every area of culture.

Manifestations - Peril - Vulgarity - Use - Language

One of the most pernicious and culturally deadly manifestations of the peril of standardized vulgarity is in the use of language. We forget that words are never merely words but are the means by which we make sense of things. If we have fewer words we have fewer tools with which to think and with which to reason. We are left not merely speechless in the presence of reality but thoughtless. This is why our Anglo-Saxon ancestors were wise when they spoke of each person’s “word-horde.” The more words we possess in our personal “horde” the wealthier and healthier we will be. The knowledge of each word is something which personally enriches the one who possesses it. Words empower us, whereas the absence of words impoverishes us and leaves us powerless to make sense of who we are and where we fit into reality. They are the means of exchange with which we express an...
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