Words were routinely twisted for political purposes back in her home country of Romania, says writer and diplomat Carmen Firan. But as she eventually discovered, words in America are bent in service of the everyday conversation.
At home: “The words allowed by the dictatorship would take up only two dictionary pages: empty and precious slogans, political jingles, and the like. Artists hid in metaphors; regular folks would whisper and swear. Some would make peace with the system and become megaphones of ideological emptiness; others would assume the loneliness of their own thoughts, awaiting more and more hopelessly, a liberating miracle.”
But as she realized during her diplomatic assignment in New York: “In America, the absolute superlative rules, the need for grandiosity: everything is outsize and aims at eternity. If asked how things are going, people here mindlessly answer: great. In the beginning, the positive American spirit energized me.”
A bit long, this thoughtful essay is definitely worth a complete read.