Thursday, August 16, 2007

Language / gobbledygook

“The move from a structuralist account . . . marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony . . .” [Judith Butler, a well-known professor at the University of California – Berkeley]

George Orwell’s putdown of this kind of impenetrability in perhaps his most famous essay:

I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:
“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Here it is in modern English:
“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”