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It is truly astounding that this issue of the correctness of the language should emerge as a conflict point given the fact that nearly everyone is using some software to translate into English with results leaving much to be desired. This reminds me of the difference between two comments I myself received on a paper I wrote last year. One reader decried the apparent absence of footnotes without considering the arguments made (there were notes but the reader apparently overlooked them or declined to consider them), the other reader responded to the arguments with almost no mention of the form.

I believe it is important to use key terms clearly and correctly. That means explaining where or in what context the usage is to be understood. To make the point more concrete: the US government frequently uses the term "freedom" and a lot of rubbish is written about policy (economic or political) based on the chimera "freedom". When someone wants to use the word "freedom" they have to contextualize it first. Otherwise it becomes a "floating" term which cannot be criticised. Personally I feel the word "freedom" has become pretty useless for debate. But if it is to be used one now has to define it. I have come to prefer liberation and emancipation since today "freedom" cannot even be taken for granted by the "white" middle classes. Quite aside from that point emancipation is a continuous process and does not necessarily result in some pure "freedom".

In a multi-lingual environment orthographic and stylistic patience must be exercised. My rudimentary knowledge of Spanish reminds me that like English there is no single "King's Spanish" to which all are obliged. Even the "King's/ Queen's English" is an anachronism where more English-speakers are "non-natives" than native-speakers.

I would urge that clarity of thought is not discoverable at the level of orthography. It only begins with etymology and politics: e.g. was the violent overthrow of the Spanish Republic a "civil war" or a military golpe d' estado? The choice of term is not an accident but there are those who are careless with words or do not accept responsibility for their choices. These are serious issues in historical debate-- in any language.

Patrick Wilkinson
Cognitive Consulting and Language Logistics
Kirchstrasse 32
D-40227 Düsseldorf