Your Call is Important to Us: What a Load of Bullsh-t

Aug 13, 2013

We're talking today about a word that can refer to the solid waste produced by male cattle. It can also refer to nonsensical talk not grounded in fact. In 1986, the American philosopher Harry Frankfurt published a scholarly analysis of this concept. In some ways it was a groundbreaking paper, but it also constituted a furtherance of an almost constant inquiry by thinking people.

In "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell does not specifically cite the two-syllable term we're talking about, but he cannily and passionately dissects the use of language to obscure and confuse, rather than to clarify. And going back a little further, Jonathan Swift's race of virtuous horses, the Houyhnhnms, have no word in their language for lying. They describe it as "to say the thing which is not so." They are horses with no word for horsecrap.