Semantic Infiltration (glossary entry)

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Semantic infiltration is the “systematic distortion of meaning of certain words to confuse or mislead”.[1][2][3] According to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, it “is the process whereby we come to adopt the language of our adversaries in describing political reality”.[2][4] Eventually, “we pay for small concessions at the level of language with large setbacks at the level of practical politics”.[3]

The process of semantic infiltration occurs when a “skillful or persistent semanticist can persuade an opponent to accept his terms of debate…[and the] opponent thus unwittingly through repetition or willingly through persuasion adopts the semanticist’s usage of words and by extension, the ideas, perceptions and policies that accompany them”.[2]

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