Over 500,000 people visited Farnam Street last month to expand their knowledge and improve their thinking. Work smarter, not harder with our free weekly newsletter that's full of time-tested knowledge you can add to your mental toolbox.

A sign of a dying civilization?

“One of the signs of a dying civilization,” John Ralston Saul points out in Voltaire's Bastards, “is that its language breaks down into exclusive dialects which prevent communication. A growing healthy civilization uses language as a daily tool to keep the machinery of society moving.”

Chris Hedges points out in Empire of Illusion that we've “retreated into specialized, impenetrable verbal enclaves in every academic department and discipline across the country. The more these universities churn out these stunted men and women, the more we are flooded with a peculiar breed of specialist who uses obscure code words as a way to avoid communication.” This brings to mind some of the recent verbale. Do these sound familiar — securitization, credit default swap, structured investment vehicle, quantitative easing, and collateralized debt obligation?

Shop at Amazon.com and support Farnam Street

Filed Under: