Semantic Drift

That the information-compression intrinsic to generalisation and various other tools or methods facilitating cultural navigation and interpretation are prone to inaccuracies and errors is no reason not to use these referential mnemonics. It may, however, be a little too easy to neglect or forget to maintain a foregrounded awareness of the caveat that those radical abbreviations and simplifications (by which communication and comprehension are facillitated) may also over a longer time scale drift further and further from that entity or artefact to which they refer; the potential for the obfuscation of truth can be gradual and may occur as though by stealth. This “semantic drift” is very likely also a vector of influence by which skilled analysts, spin doctors and communications professionals can play the long-game of political or ideological opinion-shaping and psychological influence.

The extent to which errors of replication are responsible for longue durée cultural, subjective and semantic metamorphosis remains an intriguing possibility: that a literal evolution of meaning and interpretation are (at least partially) caused by those errors of information transmission that are themselves an inevitable feature of a process of information compression upon which informal communication depends.

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