Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

`IDIOT,' said my husband, but he wasn't speaking to me. Someone had just used the word deconstruct on the wireless when it was clear, even to my husband, that the wireless voice had no postmodernist intent but meant no more than `analyse'.

I thought I might have missed a new school of philosophy the next day, when I heard someone arguing that it was wrong to classify phenomena by applying a presumed process to them. The example was the taxonomic classification of animals according to an underlying process of evolution by natural selection.

In a more homely context I heard on the same day a bank apologising that it had failed in its monitoring process. That certainly did not sound like a philosophical theory.

Just because a word such as process has suddenly suffered a voguish popularity, it does not mean its ancestry is disreputable. A phrase in the writings of Richard Rolle of Hampole (which the OED has kindly sought out for me) from the mid-14th century sounds, but is not, as voguish as any modern usage: `We must work be [by] processe of tyme.' Chaucer writes of `the process of nature', like any official from a National Park.

But two injections by thinkers boosted the potency of process as a smart chatterer's word. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.