BushCospeak = Doublespeak

Salman Rushdie succinctly skewers deceptive abuse of language:

BEYOND any shadow of a doubt, the ugliest phrase to enter the English language last year was “extraordinary rendition”. To those of us who love words, this phrase’s brutalisation of meaning is an infallible signal of its intent to deceive.

Of course, it’s not only politicians who obscure plain ugly intent with superficially unobjectionable words, politicians merely employ spin doctors to find the fewest memorable words to do so. Non-political memes are often more verbose though no less sinister.

Sexists are fond of using “boys will be boys” to dismiss any female complaint of certain oppressive/threatening male behaviours.

Racists are fond of speaking approvingly of communities that are “great places to raise kids” (because everybody there looks just like us), for example. It is not coincidence that the Sutherland Shire, flashpoint for the mob violence against people “of Middle Eastern appearance” at Cronulla Beach last month, had been described that way for decades.

Have you run into any brutalised phrases lately?

Categories: language, Sociology

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