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Tell Us What You Really Mean!

As someone with a journalism degree, and as someone who makes a living using the right words, I find myself bothered by reporters, commentators and others who call themselves “journalists” skate around words by using euphemisms.

Example: Some newsperson reports on fighting in some faraway country and says/writes, “It is not known if (name of bad guy) is alive or not.”

Yes, it is known. It just is not known to you. The bad guy in question knows if he’s alive, and I’m sure some of his friends/advisers/followers/hero worshippers also know.

It is correct to say/write “(Name of reporter or news organization) do/does not know if (name of bad guy) is alive or not.”

This problem extends beyond journalists.  Today I watched Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay wave goodbye to quarterback Peyton Manning after 14 seasons. Manning, 35, did not play this past season because he underwent numerous neck surgeries and did not heal fast enough.

Had Manning not been released, the Colts would have had to pay him a $28 million bonus under the terms of his contract. Instead, Irsay cut Manning and drafted Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to replace him.

Both said this wasn’t about money. When somebody says it isn’t about the money, it’s always about the money.

How about another one: When somebody says, “I don’t mean to offend you, but …” they mean to offend you. And “I don’t want to sound rude, but …” means a rude comment is forthcoming.

The late, great George Carlin put it best in describing euphemisms: “They obscure meaning rather than enhance it. They shade the truth.”

Until next time! Use the right non-euphemisms!



March 7, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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