Six Tuscan Poets, by Giorgio Vasari, 1544.

Six Tuscan Poets, by Giorgio Vasari, 1544. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota.

Communication

Volume V, Number 2 | spring 2012

Preamble

Word Order

By Lewis H. Lapham

The Internet is blessed with undoubtedly miraculous applications, but language is not yet one of them. Technology cannot displace the primacy of words.

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Miscellany

Henry James said in 1915, “The war has used up words…they have, like millions of other things, been more overstrained and knocked about and voided of the happy semblance during the last six months than in all the long ages before, and we are now confronted with a depreciation of all our terms.” While writing A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway copied out part of this interview, wrote above it “on the debasement of words by war,” and gave his main character the line, “Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.”

A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.

—Arthur Miller, 1961