by Mark English
Young children are notoriously bad liars, but even mature and sophisticated users of language reveal themselves in ways of which they are all too often unaware. Listeners and readers inevitably make judgments based not so much on the literal meaning of what we say as on what they perceive to be our purpose or motivation for saying it. This is a well-known and universal phenomenon. But there are strands of thinking, in both Western and Eastern traditions, which take these ideas a bit further and see the analysis of linguistic style as potentially revealing the moral qualities of the speaker or writer.