Words evolve, perhaps more rapidly and tellingly than do their users, and the change in meanings reflects a society often more accurately than do the works of many historians. In the years preceding the first collapse of NorArm, the change in the meaning of one word predicted the failure of that society more immediately and accurately than did all the analysts, social scientists, and historians. That critical word? "Discrimination." We know it now as a term meaning "unfounded bias against a person, group, or culture on the basis of racial, gender, or ethnic background." Prejudice, if you will.
The previous meaning of the word was: "to draw a clear distinction between good and evil, to differentiate, to recognize as different." Moreover, the connotations once associated with discrimination were favourable. A person of discrimination was one of taste and good judgment. With the change of the meaning into a negative term of bias, the English language was left without a single-word term for the act of choosing between alternatives wisely, and more importantly, left with a subterranean negative connotation for those who attempted to make such a choices.
In hindsight, the change in meaning clearly reflected and foreshadowed the disaster to come. Individuals and institutions abhorred making real choices. At one point more than three-quarters of the youthful population entered institutions of higher level learning. Credentials, often paper ones, replaced meaningful judgment and choices… Popularity replaced excellence… The list of disastrous cultural and political decisions foreshadowed by the change in meaning of one word is truly endless…
Was that merely an aberration of history? Hardly, for the same changes in language today reflect our own future. Take the word "filch," now applied to the wealthiest of the wealthy. The original meaning was "to steal slyly in small amounts, to pilfer." When the longer term (:filthy rich") previously used was resurrected after the second collapse, the contraction and the theft "overtones" of the original meaning of "filch" fit admirably the social needs of the time. The growing application of this term to those who are more than moderately successful clearly reflects a widespread social unrest and dissatisfaction with those who control the wealth and power of our present-day society…
Archform:Beauty - chapter:12