Economese — or the Misplaced Nominative

Economese — or the Misplaced Nominative

Mainstream capitalist economics has become,
among other things, a language. I do not mean
simply that economists employ a professional jar-
gon. How could they not? Between Economese and
ordinary English there are more than differences of
vocabulary; there are different relations between
subject, verb, and object … and so on. New York-
ers and Carolinians, say, speak two dialects of the
same language. A New Yorker says, “Give me a
lift downtown, will you?” A Carolinian says,
“Would you carry me downtown?” Both mean,
“Might I enter your car and be conveyed down-
town if you’re going that way?” Should a main-
stream economist wish a lift and make his wish
known in Economese, he would have to say some-
thing like “Assuming I enter your car with your
permission, and assuming the car is going down-
town, it could drive us both.”

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Lima