The common use of a turn of phrase or a gesture can define a culture or a system of thought. There’s power in it. Capitalists spend an awful lot of money studying this and using the results of those studies to try to influence public thinking (and, of course, spending). So do politicians.
We believe that there’s an important point to be made about the usage of common phrases and gestures, and that is that they must be authentic- they must arise spontaneously and be heart-felt. Otherwise they become targets for satire, mockery, distrust and derision.
Surely the adoption of the shorter “ski-ing” (later “skiing”) for the term “ski-running” by the Ski Club of Great Britain represents those in power bending to popular use. Most english language slang reduces the effort needed to communicate, and a full syllable was saved this way. Good on the Club for not insisting. On the other hand, throwing your entire arm into the air in front of you, while simultaneously shouting “Heil!” requires a lot more effort than a simple “hi” or a nod.
This became the law of the land however. It was roundly mocked for a while, but by the time even animals trained to perform the salute for vaudeville shows were ordered to be exterminated by the party no one was laughing anymore. What might have begun as a way for true believers to show their enthusiasm for their cause became a cudgel, a way to identify the unwilling. Of course, we wouldn’t put up with that these days.
Another refinery disaster, seemingly more common in ’33. And that Italian Armada is closing in.
all hail the power here!