If Language is Incorrect

Passage from Serious Questions by Erwin Chargaff:

Twenty-five hundred years ago Master Kung recognized clearly that it is the disorder of the language that produces the disorder of the state. It is written in The Analects of Confucius (Waley translation):

If language is incorrect, then what is said does not concord with what was meant; and if what is said does not concord with what was meant, what is to be done cannot be effected. If what is to be done cannot be effected, then rites and music will not flourish. If rites and music do not flourish, then punishments will go astray. And if punishments go astray, then the people have nowhere to put hand and foot. Therefore the gentleman uses only such language as is proper for speech, and only speaks of what it would be proper to carry into effect. The gentleman, in what he says, leaves nothing to mere chance.

I should be sorry if these words led to the conclusion that all that Master Kung’s gentleman lacked was a word processor.

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