Ought vs. Need

I don’t watch Mad Men, so this article detailing the modern linguistic choices that creep into the 60’s-set show didn’t really grab me, but the chart used at the end was pretty interesting: 

via the Atlantic

I’m not a linguistic expert, and using the dictionary definition of something is the Jim Belushi of speech openings, but it strikes me as worth noting that the key difference between “ought” and “need” is the moral component – if you “ought” to do something, that implies a moral duty. If you “need” to do something, it means there’s just some external or internal requirement to do so, moral or otherwise. I’m not one to decry the moral bankruptcy of America or talk about how great things were in the good old days I never saw, but I think it’s interesting when something with a clear moral dimension can be shown in such stark numerical terms.

“Ought” has definitely gone out of style – I think it’s time for a retro throwback to a useful word.

Advertisements

About thinklikeafox

I'm a Naval Officer living in Southern California. I hope to be attending law school in the next year or two, and I started writing this blog out of a desire to improve my writing and critical thinking skills after a couple years outside of academia.
This entry was posted in Graphs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s