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the product of abnormal situations will destroys, but it also clears the air, illulimit its permanent contribution to our minates. Jargon is abstract; slang is language. The slang of every-day life .concrete. Jargon is a perversion of deis a richer source of new words. Slang cent prose. Jargon is used in Congress, in is by no means the cultural sin it is pulpits, in business correspondence, and, sometimes branded. Slang is language alas! in magazines. It is the commonest in the making. Slang is the sign of life sin of penmen, even penmen who conin a language. Slang is imagination at demn it. Jargon is circumlocution bework in words. Our mother tongue come a habit. Jargon obscures ideas. would become a stagnant pool if slang Somebody once asked, “What would have did not pour into it fresh streams. Much become of Christianity if Jeremy Benof slang is mere verbal eccentricity, but tham had had the writing of the Paramany of the most expressive and accred- bles?” The simple directness of “Renited words in our language were slang der unto Cæsar the things that are in their origin.
Cæsar's” might have been “Render unto Purists wage unceasing war on slang. Cæsar the tributes, perquisites, and But our language has less to fear from privileges that normally and by all the slang than from the commoner linguistic laws of the status quo appertain to that sin of jargon. A hurried glance at one exalted potentate." of the many condensed dictionaries Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, in a series might give the impression that slang and of Cambridge lectures on the art of jargon are nearly synonymous. For writing, said many illuminating things instance, one may find slang defined as on jargon. He brought his rarest humor follows: “The cant words or jargon used into play when he rewrote Hamlet's by thieves, peddlers,. beggars, and the soliloquy, turning Shakspere's refreshvagabond classes generally; cant.” But ing plainness into jargon. The jara closer study of the two words in the gonized soliloquy ran as follows: more ambitious dictionaries reveals a
To be, or the contrary? Whether the fundamental distinction.
former or the latter be preferable would Probably the best definition of the
seem to admit of some difference of opinion; modern sense of the word “slang" is the
the answer in the present case being of an following: "Language of a highly collo
affirmative or of a negative character acquial type, considered as below the level
cording as to whether one elects on the one of standard educated speech, and con
hand to mentally suffer the disfavor of forsisting either of new words or of current
tune, albeit in an extreme degree, or on the words employed in some special sense.”
other to boldly envisage adverse conditions Likewise one may find jargon defined
in the prospect of eventually bringing them as "professional slang or cant." But,
to a conclusion. The condition of sleep is again, a closer study of the word reveals
similar to, if not indistinguishable from that its distinctive meaning. Probably the
of death; and with the addition of finality the best definition of jargon is the following:
former might be considered identical with "Unintelligible or meaningless talk or
the latter; so that in this connection it might writing.” The word goes back to the
be argued with regard to sleep that, could the French verb jargonner, which means to
addition be effected, a termination would be warble, to chatter, to jabber. The early
put to the endurance of a multiplicity of definition of jargon ran as follows:
inconveniences, not to mention a number of “The inarticulate utterance of birds, or
downright evils incidental to our fallen hua vocal sound resembling it.” This
manity, and thus a consummation achieved early sense became obsolete from the
of a most gratifying nature. fifteenth to the nineteenth century, but has been revived in modern literature, How like a campaign speech! How and the word “jargon” has come to like the ponderous effusions of certain mean muddled talk and writing.
writers who are proud of a limited Jargon is the fog of language; slang audience! In short, how Veblenesque! the lightning of language. Jargon ob- Certain writers, like Thorstein Veblen, so scures thought and dampens the gos- obscure their ideas with jargon that samer wings of fancy; slang at times their books are as unintelligible to the vast army of ordinary readers as San- nation. A man's style reacts upon his skrit to a cab-driver. Of such writers, mind. Therefore, a blow at jargon is a it may be said, as Hazlitt said of Ben- blow at muddling in the counsels of the tham:
nation. His style is unpopular, not to say unintelligible. He writes a language of his own A DEBAUCH OF THE AMERICAN MIND that darkens knowledge. His works have
THE kaleidoscope is a static thing been translated into French-they ought to
T beside an American Presidential be translated into English. People wonder
M campaign. Under the fitful tyrthat Mr. Bentham has not been prosecuted for the boldness and severity of some of his
anny of expediency, an issue that is invectives. He might wrap up high treason
paramount at the beginning of a camin one of his inextricable periods, and it
paign may be petty by the time the would never find its way into Westminster
campaign is well under way. The comHall. . . . He writes a cypher-hand, which
mittee on policy alters perspective overthe vulgar have no key to. ... Mr. Bentham
night, as the fortunes of the campaign writes as if he was allowed but a single
shift. . A veteran journalist, Dr. Tal
cott Williams, who has been an acute sentence to express his whole view of a subject in, and as if, should he omit a single cir
observer of many Presidential contests, cumstance or step of the argument, it would
recently said that there is nothing more be lost to the world forever, like an estate by
fruitless than to try to guess in mida flaw in the title-deeds.
August what will be the paramount issue
on which the voters will divide in Novem"Rather interesting," somebody may ber. This is not so much a commensay, “but why drag an essay on slang tary upon our lack of political acumen as and jargon into a department dedicated upon the hollow unreality of campaign to the discussion of current affairs?" propaganda and discussion. The reason should be evident, in view of Why hug longer the delusion of a the fact that during and since the war phrase! A Presidential campaign is the whole nation has been carrying on not, save in the most general hit-or-miss a spirited and at times bitter debate on sense, a “solemn referendum” on anythe power and peril of words. One thing. A Presidential campaign is a group insists that the war was won by catch-as-catch-can fight for votes. Early Mr. Wilson's superb verbal assaults on in the campaign the statesman abdicates enemy morale; another group insists in favor of the strategist. Acceptance that the President became intoxicated speeches are not the mind-revealing with his own rhetoric and forgot realities. confessions of political and economic
Certainly we need clear thinking in faith they purport to be. They are the the realm of leadership, but clear think- cautious pronouncements of men who ing and muddled expression do not go are playing a game. hand in hand. There are, of course, Early in the present campaign a cerexceptions to this statement. Mr. Veb- tain Presidential candidate stated to a len has something to say, if you can friend of the writer what he purposed to contrive to de-code his books. Jeremy do respecting a certain vital issue in the Bentham had something to say, but to event of his election. His statement listen to him is work. After stigmatizing was specific, intelligent, and intelligible; Bentham's style, Hazlitt wrote: “And even a runner might have heard and what makes it worse, it is not mere understood what the candidate meant. verbiage, but has a great deal of acute- His statement on the issue in his acceptness and meaning in it, which you would ance speech a few days before had been, be glad to pick out if you could.” There on the contrary, colorless and evasive, are exceptions, but, in nine cases out of and was being interpreted the country ten, the man who talks or writes jargon, over as the exact opposite of what he had thinks jargon. The man who could just said in private. It must be admitteach this people to talk and write sim- ted, however, that his public statement ple, plain, intelligible English would did not technically bar him from the double the intellectual power of the belief and purpose he stated privately.
"Why don't you say this in public?'' "with what proceeding you will begin to the candidate was asked. “Why don't benefit the state.” you stop all this misinterpretation of Here is the formula for genuine poyour real purpose?” The candidate litical campaign discussion. But our smiled a knowing smile and answered, political Glaucons will never be brought in effect:
to condescend to details until there is “My dear sir, a political campaign is something of a Socratic quality in the a matter of strategy. I am just now the public mind. Marshal Foch of the
-party. I'm waiting until I have drawn the fire of my opponent. I want to know where
VILLAGE STATESMANSHIP he stands and his plan of battle. Have patience. In time I will make a state
CROSS-SECTION of the mind ment that will, I think, satisfy all the A А of leadership in village, state, or friends of this idea."
nation is always interesting and It is this damnation of strategy that
instructive. Despite the present prevaturns a Presidential campaign into a lence of a mass philosophy, despite debauch of the American mind. A the latter-day flings at the "great-man" Presidential campaign should be, might theory of progress, the fact remains that be, a vast summer school in which adult a headless civilization is a drifting civiliAmerica wrestled with the simplicities zation. Every attempt to dispense with and complexities of world politics, of worthily imperious leadership has gone government, of education, of economics,
rocks. The Bolshevisms of of all vital concerns. Instead we make history have invariably become bureauit, at best, an orgy of meaningless plati- cracies. H. G. Wells is right in saying tudes, and, at worst, a high carnival of that the determining and controlling strategic insincerities.
persons of a nation constitute in its The blame for this "shadow dance of intenser form the national intelligence words” that marks our campaigns rests and the national will. less upon the politicians than upon the One fatal weakness in our considerapeople. As a people we do not have a tion of the problem of leadership is that fundamental and continuous interest in we think of it in terms of large affairs politics. We have sporadic and short- and sweeping jurisdictions only. We lived interest in issues, but not an abid- seem to go on the assumption that great ing interest in the grand adventure of leadership must have at least a nation, wisely governing our common life. and preferably a world, for its playWhen we express deep interest in poli- ground. But the fact is that national tics it is as a special and temporary task. statesmanship is largely conditioned by Now and then we organize "good-gov- village statesmanship. What happens at ernment” movements, pursue for a time the top in our national life can be nullipolitical studies in our clubs, and fling fied by what happens at the bottom. ourselves with hectic fervor into propa- We cannot achieve an integrated nation gandist societies to "put over" this out of slipshod and ill-organized villages or that dramatic political idea; but sus- and towns. Before we can boast natained political-mindedness we have not tional pride, national sense, national achieved.
conscience, and national will, we must Politics is cursed with the jargon arrive at community pride, community discussed earlier in these columns. sense, community conscience, and comPoliticians will deal in evasive abstrac- munity will. And the men of the small tions as long as popular thought on towns of America have not yet answered things political lacks informed back- the challenge to leadership, to village ground and concreteness of inquiry. statesmanship.
"It is plain, Glaucon," said Socrates, All this is prompted by the results of "that if you wish to be honored, you a questionnaire sent to the mayors of must benefit the state."
towns of three hundred to three thou"Certainly," replied Glaucon.
sand inhabitants in the Northwestern “Then, inform us,” said Socrates, States of Washington, Oregon, and
Idaho. The Bureau of Municipal Re- dared suggest greater "intellectual desearch of Whitman College, in the State velopment." Twelve mayors suggested of Washington, sent the questionnaire the desirability of community centers or in an effort to arrive at some of the facts commercial clubs. Several expressed of existence in such towns. At the the general need of "enthusiasm," of moment of writing, one hundred and “community push,” of “broader vision,” thirty-five mayors have responded. The of "public spirit," or "progressiveness." Foreign Press Service, in one of its Does all this suggest that our small weekly news bulletins, presents the towns are breeding leaders with vision, results of the inquiry. From the report comprehensive purpose, technic, and these suggestive items are gleaned as application? The
lies fairly answers to the question, “What do you clear in the matrix of facts. If we could think your town needs most?”'
realize the dignity and importance of There are sixty-four demands for public village statesmanship, if small town improvements. The background of these councils would look upon themselves as sixty-four demands makes them all the committees of efficiency engineers in a more suggestive. Only eight mayors large social sense, whose duty is the suggested the need of better public administration of the common town life buildings. Although eighty-one of these as an effective social unit, many pertowns have no facilities for sewage dis- plexities we are now placing on the posal, only fifteen mayors suggested shoulders of national leadership would sewer systems. Although sixty of these be handled at their source. towns have no pavements, only fifteen mayors suggested pavements. Although ten of these towns have no water system,
THE LIPS OF THE SPHINX MOVE only six mayors expressed a desire for water systems. Despite the nation
ARLIER in the year, in these wide propaganda for "good roads," this E columns, comment was made item figures in the replies of only ten of
upon the tangled issues conthe one hundred and thirty-five mayors. fronting the Milner commission which Nine mayors thought the greatest need the British Government sent to Egypt of their towns was hotels, while five in December last to inquire into the mayors thought the thing most needed whole question of Egyptian unrest and was to have a railroad pass through to draft, in collaboration with Egyptian their towns. A few mayors suggested leadership, ways and means for working better walks, schools, parks, lights, fire out the British Government's declared prevention, hospitals, and the like.
purpose “to preserve the autonomy of There are one hundred and fifty-seven Egypt under British protection, and to demands of a material nature. Business develop a system of self-government needs figured largest in the mayors' under Egyptian rule.” That commisreplies. In all, ninety-three objects of a sion has now been at work for months, commercial nature
mentioned. carrying out an exacting and sweeping Sixteen mayors wanted factories and the schedule of conference, inquiry, and vitalizing effect of their pay-rolls upon research. By the time this comment the business life of their towns. Thirty- reaches the reader we may know with three mayors mentioned specific kinds of greater definiteness its authentic results, business houses as needed.
but at the moment the air is filled with pleaded for capital, public or private, stimulating rumor of which it is worth for irrigation purposes.
while to take notice. There are thirty-four demands for in- The report was current during the tellectual, moral, or social advantages. month of August that a secret agreeNine mayors suggested the need of ment had been arrived at between Viswholesome amusement for the youth of count Milner and Zaghlul Pasha, the their towns.
Six mayors asked for Egyptian Nationalist leader, respectlibraries, four for churches, and two for ing a constitution that provided someministers. One lonely mayor saw the thing in the nature of dominion selfneed of "moral influences,” and one government for Egypt. This report was
categorically denied. The rumor arose matic representation will probably be at the time of a temporary suspension confined to those countries with which of negotiations between Viscount Milner she has commercial interests, Great and the Egyptian Nationalists. The Britain acting for Egyptian interests in negotiations, it was said, were to be other countries. resumed later, and that no public state- (8) The “capitulations” will be abolment would be made until these negotia- ished, and hereafter foreigners will be tions had reached nearer completion. judged by Egyptian courts. Behind It was said in the "authoritative quar- the word "capitulations" is a fascinating ters” from which the denial came that story of the evolution of the hybrid “conversations have revealed a very judicial system of Egypt, with its innuconsiderable measure of agreement on merable admixtures of foreign factors. fundamental points, and will, it is hoped, This story will be well worth the telling accordingly facilitate an ultimate settle- in some later issue if the rumored reform ment of the Egyptian problem.” By of the Egyptian judiciary is undertaken; the time this reaches the reader, the but in this instance it is enough to define informal “conversation" stage of the "capitulations” roughly as the special negotiations, doubtless, will have been
privileges accorded subjects of certain resumed; later we may expect more foreign nations by which they escape the formal negotiations between the repre- jurisdiction of purely Egyptian courts. sentatives accredited by the British and (9) There is to be a marked reduction Egyptian governments. Meanwhile, let in the number of British officials in us analyze the current rumor and at- Egypt, although many will remain in tempt to relate it to the larger play of transitional capacities, and such as repolicy of which it may be a part.
main permanently will be directly The newspaper reports are conflicting responsible to the Egyptian chiefs of the in certain details. But, roughly stated, departments in which they serve. the report may be said to look toward (10) The final and formal agreement some such arrangement as was effected will be negotiated between accredited between the United States and Cuba at representatives of both governments, and the termination of the Spanish-American will be submitted to the British ParliaWar. Here are certain points on which ment and the Egyptian National Assemvirtually all forms of the rumor are in bly, and, if approved by these bodies, agreement.
will be made the basis of a treaty of (1) Great Britain will recognize the alliance between Great Britain and independence of Egypt.
Egypt as an independent nation. (2) Great Britain will undertake to As stated in the beginning, all this is guarantee the integrity of Egypt.
rumor and may be little more than the (3) Egypt will, in return, recognize agenda of the conference between the Great Britain's privileged position in members of the Milner commission and the Nile valley.
the Egyptian Nationalists. Extended (4) Egypt will, in case of war, give comment is, therefore, out of place at Great Britain free access to Egyptian this time. Certain things, however, territory.
may be ventured. Viscount Milner is (5) Great Britain will gradually with- no visionary. His mental processes draw her army of occupation from Egypt, and diplomatic policies have never been save for a small British garrison consist- tainted by any Messianic delusion. He ing of sufficient troops to protect the is essentially a realist in politics. If he Suez Canal zone.
supports such a plan, marking such a (6) Egypt will have primary control definite turn in Anglo-Egyptian relaof her foreign relations, subject to any tions, it is probably because he thinks treaties not being at variance with a continuation of the present British proBritish policy.
tectorate an impossibility, short of a mil(7) Egypt will, in consequence of her itary dictatorship. It may be doubted assumed control of her foreign relations, that Milner regards the Egyptians as appoint and maintain diplomatic repre- really ready for self-government. He sentatives abroad. At first her diplo- has probably come to regard Great