A writer-editor-teacher’s quote of the week #34

“What’s the allure of linguistic relativism? There may be solace in imagining ourselves prisoners of circumstances beyond our control—of language or horoscopes, of God or Capital—and so relieved of responsibility for what we do next. It may also be that linguistic relativism gives a kind of cheap knowingness that we all enjoy: you’re a prisoner of your tongue, but I’m the one who can show that you’re imprisoned. In truth, language seems less like a series of cells in which we are imprisoned than like a set of tools that help us escape: some of the files are rusty; some will open any door; and most you have to jiggle around in the lock. But, sooner or later, most words work.”

– from “Word Magic” by Adam Gopnik, published in the May 26, 2014 issue of The New Yorker

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