Words Matter is a new featured section at ThirdRailers.com In it, we will help you peel back the layers of jargon, euphemism, doublespeak, politcalese or whatever you prefer to call the language used not only in Washington, but in almost every aspect of our daily life. You hear it at work, on TV, see it at use in the news, in the mall; day in and day at and you’ve probably gotten so used to it… you don’t even realize it anymore.
Doublespeak is language which pretends to communicate but doesn’t. It is language which makes the bad seem good, the negative seem positive, the unpleasant seem attractive, or at least tolerable. It is language which avoids, shifts or denies responsibility; language which is at variance with its real or purported meaning. It is language which conceals or prevents thought.
Doublespeak Refresher Course:
- “Doublespeak is all around us. We are asked to check our packages at the desk ‘for our convenience’ when it’s not for our convenience at all but for someone else’s convenience. We see advertisements for ‘preowned,’ ‘experienced’ or ‘previously distinguished’ cars, not used cars and for ‘genuine imitation leather,’ ‘virgin vinyl’ or ‘real counterfeit diamonds.’” (William Lutz, “Doubts About Doublespeak.” State Government News, July 1993)
- “With doublespeak, banks don’t have ‘bad loans’ or ‘bad debts’; they have ‘nonperforming assets’ or ‘nonperforming credits’ which are ‘rolled over’ or ‘rescheduled.’” (William Lutz, The New Doublespeak. HarperCollins, 1996)
- “[Umbro designer David] Blanch has employed an impressive amount of doublespeak to talk up the technological wizardry of his design. The shirts boast ‘intelligent ventilation points,’ which look very much like arm holes to you and me. It incorporates ‘tailored shoulder darts specifically designed to accommodate the biodynamics of the shoulder.’ It’s hard to tell from the official pictures, but this ever-so-clever touch appears to be a seam.” (Helen Pidd, “New All-White England Kit.” The Guardian, March 29, 2009)
- “I Actually Did Vote for the $87 Billion, Before I voted Against It”. Remember that one. Only a politician can affirm that they can vote for something before they vote against it and think it was the right position to be both for and against the same thing!
- “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
(George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946)
So, we hope you will stay tuned for what will be an absolutely smashing series of articles, commentary and asides on the wide world of doublespeak.