Notes Book


An ideolect is just like a dialect, only smaller. A dialect is version of a language spoken by a group of people. Only one person speaks an ideolect. Each ideolect is unique, but some are more similar than others. The more similar the ideolects of two people, the less work it is for them to communicate. This fact is well known but often ignored. For example, it helps explain the success of home schooling, and the failure of communal education, private and public. Home schooling has a superior teacher to student ratio, but there are other important reasons for its success.

Ideolects are mostly passed from generation to generation through the mother-child relationship. Women teach their children to talk. As the child's ideolect begins to form, it bears only a passing resemblance to the mother's language, and the mother is often the only person who can understand the utterances of a young child. Gradually, the child's ideolect becomes more similar to the mother's ideolect. The flow of information between mother and child grows rapidly over time. Both the mother and child are made more comfortable by this growth of information transfer, so they work hard to increase it. Since a child is very dependent on services of those around her, her comfort level if highly dependent on effective communication.

When a child is shipped off to another care provider, her comfort level will depend heavily on her ability to communicate to the new care provider. A child in this situation is very like to regress to behavior patterns from an earlier time in her life, because those behavior patterns are adapted to limited ability to communicate, and she is certain to have a more limited ability to communicate with a new care provider. This interruption of communications is detrimental to both the child's social and intellectual development. While the child and the mother are separated, the ideolects of both child and mother will diverge. Also, the child has a limited capacity to process information, and an alternative care provider forces her to adapt to two ideolects instead of one, impeding her development. Not only is communication made more difficult when the child is with an alternative care provider, it becomes more difficult when the child is with the mother.

A home-schooled child can concentrate on leaning what the mother knows, and then when she is ready, she can branch out to learning other things from other people. When a child is given more freedom to pursue her own comfort, she learns faster and is happier and easier to get along with. She grows up to be a polite, productive, and well informed adult.

A coercive environment causes ideolects to diverge and impedes the flow of information. In an environment where some people pay taxes and some people collect taxes, the word taxes may have the same literal meaning in the ideolects of the taxpayers as it does in the ideolects of the tax collectors, but it has an entirely different connotation. This divergence in ideolects makes communication between taxpayers and tax collectors more difficult. Finding a maximally effective way to say “pay up or else” is difficult enough when the criminal and the victim are speaking the same language. But criminals and victims cannot ever speak the same ideolect, because an ideolect is strongly influenced by the social position of the speaker.

Speakers often want to transmit a message to one listener while leaving others guessing. The more coercive the environment, the more important this ability becomes. Jargon is a secret code designed to perform this function. It is very important in prisons, the military, the drug underworld, and government bureaucracies. The jargon must constantly be changed because opposition groups are constantly learning the new terms and grammar.

Euphemism allows people to discuss and perform anti-social acts while believing they can evade the normal consequences of such acts. Thieves commonly use euphemisms for stealing, like “boosting”, “liberation”, or “taxation”.

There are many communication problems among coercively organized groups that do not exist in less violent societies. In a society where everyone is equal, and no one is afraid, everyone can speak a very similar ideolect. There is no need for jargon, obfuscation and euphemism. The more people that can understand what a speaker is saying, the better off the speaker is. In a coercive society, when an opposition group intercepts and decodes a message meant to be secret, the consequences can be serious.

The USA has one of the most violent societies in the world. With about 5% of the world's population, we have more than half the world's prisoners. We have high taxes, huge military, and high rates of violent crime. We are having more and more trouble talking to each other. We will not be able to just get along until we have corrected these problems. It is no accident that lawyers and bureaucrats speak a language that is barely understandable to most people. They work hard to keep it that way. In a society with clear and simple rules understood by everyone the power of elites is limited. Our thousands of complex laws allow our rulers to punish us whenever they wish for any of thousands of insane reasons.

In a society with a coercive class structure, the languages of the upper and lower classes diverges. This got so extreme in the Roman Empire that the upper and the lower classes could barely understand each other. The Russian aristocracy started speaking French not too long before the communist revolution. Criminals and governments value secrecy and fear gossip. Preserving secrecy distorts language and makes communication difficult. Political power may come out of the barrel of a gun, but it is a mind that points the gun and it is language that tells the mind where the gun should be pointed and when the trigger should be pulled.

Fortunately, the ideolects in the minds that point the guns are those of the lower classes. Cops and soldiers are drawn from the lower classes, and the language they learn from the mother is the language of the common man. This is a major factor in the fall of many a tyrant. A government that does not speak the language of its subjects cannot stand. This is illustrated over and over again in history. Tyrants and empires fall and occupiers leave.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq was an act of political, military, and linguistic ignorance. There are easier and cheaper ways to learn to say “quagmire” in Arabic.