Wednesday, June 20, 2007

what you say

In a column entitled Words Of Mass Infuriation Anne Applebaum takes notice of an article in The Telegraph on the annoying things people say. Articles on language tend to be tedious debates between pedants and pragmatists, or at best vehicles for some tepid humor. The one in the Telegraph is somewhat each. My favorite example of the British vacilation between its own and our American clichés comes from a reader named Nick Godfrey who wrote:
I hear what you're saying but, with all due respect, it's not exactly rocket science. Basically, at the end of the day, the fact of the matter is you have got to be able to tick all the boxes. It's not the end of the world, but, to be perfectly honest with you, when push comes to shove, you don't want to be literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. Going forward we need to be singing from the same songsheet but you can't see the wood from the trees. Naturally hindsight is 20/20 vision and you have to take the rough with the smooth before proceeding onwards and upwards. The bottom line is you wear your heart on your sleeve and, when all is said and done, this is all part and parcel of the ongoing bigger picture. C'est la vie (if you know what I mean).
Applebaum's piece, which focuses on political verbal pablum, stimulated a fine contribution from a reader with the email handle kenonwenu:
The government nowadays speaks a language I would describe as Orwellian-Manichaean.

Remarks by the President on Homeownership at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, June 18, 2002

"Let me first talk about how to make sure America is secure from a group of killers, people who hate -- you know what they hate? They hate the idea that somebody can go buy a home. They hate freedom; that's what they hate...

..I want to thank the choir for coming, the youngsters for being here. I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."

{cartoons from the Telegraph article}

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