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I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

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02 February 2013

Anniversary of the Battle of Stealingrad

Twenty-one years ago, Russia was invaded by financial wizards, not all of them foreign. The man above apparently proposed to hand out cheques for 00,000 roubles. If so, he was one of the few who did what he said he would do as nobody got anything, or almost nobody. He, himself, appears to have been an exception. Today, he looks sleek and healthy, though with less hair and better-fitting suits. One is forced to the conclusion that he received a couple of roubles, at least, somewhere along the line. (For a recent sighting, see Mitchell's Moscow on the Gaidar Forum)
     The invasion was code-named Operation Приватизация. The pincers and thrusts and assaults of the invader took a terrible toll on the defenders. All the years of socialist construction were as nothing, and the people's achievements largely cast down in the dust. The result was that, two decades later, the productive economy was in ruins (see below).

     Russia has suffered other ruinous battles, like that whose end, in February 1943, is being commemorated today. However, Stalingrad could be rebuilt, and has been. But what about Stealingrad? It is harder to restore trust in government than it is to erect new apartment houses.
     The linguistic point is that words are not entities independent of life. They are only representations of reality and, as such, they depend on the listeners as much as the talkers. If someone says Privatisation and means Theft, that only becomes a trick if the people listening give the speaker the respect of one speaking honestly. Orwellian language is as much the fault of those who refuse to call speakers to account for the words they use as it is of those who use the misleading words.
     Ultimately, language is democratic. But democracy works only if people exercise their rights: use 'em or lose 'em. It has been said before that if people act like sheep, they will get a government of wolves. The integrity of a language is the responsibility of every individual who uses it. 

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