Sunday, October 01, 2006

# Posted 8:16 AM by Patrick Porter  

IRRITATING WORDS: Lately the word 'demonise' has been used rather loosely. It seems now that those who are disagreed with or criticised are being 'demonised.'

So recently I heard that Saddam's domestic record and rule has been 'demonised', that people who are concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions are 'demonising' Ahmenijad, and that anti-social behaviour orders might 'demonise' Britain's youth.

This seems to be a toxic misuse of the word, as it delegitimises criticism from the outset. And it runs the risk of discounting the possibility that tyrants, theocrats or even delinquent teenagers are capable of behaving demonically.

Open thread: what words in political discourse are annoying you, and why?
(10) opinions -- Add your opinion

"Reform", with it's implication that changes are going to be for the better, rather than the worse. I prefer "change", or when I'm feeling snarky, "deform".

"Linked". This is a particularly nasty one; You'll read that so and so has been "linked" to this group or that, and assume that some solid connection has been uncovered. Only to find that being "linked" means nothing more than that somebody has mentioned the two in the same context.

Not quite political, but "person of interest". It's nothing more than a way of treating somebody as a suspect, without extending them the protections suspects get.
"parse": I am utterly fed up with bleedin' Yanks saying "parse" when they mean "construe" and I'm even more pissed off when lame-brain Brits copy them.
And are you triply p.o.'d when an Australian does it?
Parsing parsees are all right, though. Here's one, and she's cute.
I'm with the much-missed Josh Chafetz in lamenting misuse of "literally."
"Impact". This word has become so overdone and cliched. I just cringe whenever I hear it in political or business discussions nowadays. Unless one is specifically talking about bombs and gunfire, why not say "The effect of raising taxes is..." instead of "The impact of raising taxes is...".

Of course, now that I've planted this meme in your minds, you will all now cringe whenever you hear "impact" in discourse. Now THAT's a truly evil impact, don't you think? BTW, Thanks for a good blog; it really impacts me.
[wicked grin]
Even worse than the over-use of impact is the ugly transformation of impact into a verb as in: "The recent scandal impacted multiple races for Senate." Only teeth get "impacted"! Other things are "affected" or "influenced"!
'fascism' is misused. Intentionally. The Hitchensian phrase Islamic-fascism or if you're in a hurry, Islamofascism, are the common examples.

The why is interesting.

'Orwellian' is also commonly misappropriated by people unfamiliar with the author.
"At the end of the day."

Okay, not political per se, but... shut up.
This one I don't hear much anymore, but it was in vogue for awhile: "agenda".

How often in the 90s would we hear a candidate snarl through clenched teeth, "My opponent has an AGENDA!"

Um... duh?

I thought politicians were supposed to have agendas.
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