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Weasel words

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2003 06:48 pm
I first came across this term in a political article by Oz writer, Bob Ellis, some time ago.
He was referring to the way that the English language has been mangled by conservative propagandists to make unacceptable concepts palatable to the general public.
So instead of being sacked you get "downsized".
Or instead of experiencing an increase in work demands (with no extra pay) you are participating in "best global practice" & "workplace reform".
Instead of tragically dying as a result of blunders by you own side while at war, you are killed by "friendly fire".


Are there any gems you've come across that you'd like to add here?
Or perhaps you'd like to invent a few weasel words of your own?
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2003 07:14 pm
msolga- I think that this is an interesting topic, but I think that political groups of all flavors are guilty of "weasel words".

How about:

politically correct= not saying what you really mean so as not to offend one group or another.

Affirmative action= racial quotas

Native Americans- The first time that I saw that phrase, years ago, I was filling out a form, and had to check off my ethnicity. Since I was born in Brooklyn, I thought that I qualified as a "native" American" Laughing

"Entitlements"- Boy, how I hate that word. Nobody is "entitled" to live of the back of another. When it was called "relief", that was a much more honest appelation.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jan, 2003 07:18 pm
Phoenix

Yes, & those therms can be either insulting or affirming, depending on which side uses them in their arguments.
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gezzy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2003 01:27 am
I agree. The term I hate the most is "friendly fire"! I would sure love to meet the idiot who came up with that term and give them my 2 cents. I find that term such an insult to the families of the victim!
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2003 01:41 am
gezzy

Yes indeed!
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2003 02:33 am
I first heard of weasel wording as a type of language used in government defense contracts. Low bids on contracts could be submitted with the appropriate weasel wording permitting large cost increases due to inevitable design changes before project completion.
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pueo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2003 03:39 am
roger, the term is "change order", used by many weasels.

like gezzy, i have a major problem with "friendly fire". i've been under fire and none of it has been friendly.

and what the heck is a pacific islander (a term i fall under) are we all the same? i know for sure i can't understand fijian, tahitian, samoan, tongan, marquesan, yapese, carolinian, or maori, but we all are pacific islanders.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2003 04:02 pm
Pueo

You must have some thoughts on this one: "smart" bombs.
Very creative use of the language, yes?
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2003 04:07 pm
How about weasel sentences?

"If anyone was offended by comments, I'm sorry."
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JoanneDorel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jan, 2003 04:21 pm
How long do you think this will take, i.e., get it done yesterday. Well why didn't they give it to me yesterday. Geez, it takes as long as it takes.

How could YOU have made that mistake, duh - you are such an idiot and I am not.
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pueo
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 12:32 am
smart bombs would be an oxymoron, si'
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kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 02:25 am
"Politics and the English Language (By George Orwell)

"Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

"Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible.

<snip>

"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism., question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification."

The rest is here: http://www.resort.com/~prime8/Orwell/patee.html

The term that I think exemplifies most well Orwell's analysis is "terminate with extreme prejudice," which the American government has used in internal memos as a euphemism for murdering its opponents in covert operations.
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Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 02:39 am
I thought you may have been referring to the latest offering from Scott Adam's "Dilbert", 'The Way of The Weasel":

"For the uninformed, a weasel is defined as anyone who is trying to get away with something".


For the record, in Australia we elected a conservative govenment into power 1996. After the election when some of the promised items failed to appear we were told that these weren't "core promises". Some unkind folk may describe them as "outright lies", but they are just those cynical types that think that elections matter.
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pueo
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 02:43 am
sounds like guam.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 05:55 am
Kuvasz

Interesting thoughts there from Orwell. He'd wised up so long ago - clever man!
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 06:06 am
Greetings from Melbourne, Mr Stillwater Very Happy

More Oz weasel words:
A "refugee" can also be a "asylum seeker" or an "illegal migrant" depending on which political side of the fence you sit on.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 06:08 am
Re the core promises, we have, to our horror, discovered a hitherto unrevealed black hole in the budget, hidden by our opponents before the election....
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 06:14 am
Deb

I thought the Libs blew the supposed excess on the "Pacific Solution"? (Hey another Oz weasel term! Gosh they're good at it!
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 06:17 am
msolga- I remember once doing an exercise in school about how words can be slanted to shade a meaning. For instance:

I am slender (positive connotation)
You are thin (neutral connotation)
He's skinny (negative connotation)
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 06:31 am
Phoenix

... and to take that one further:
he's a rake!
He's a bean pole ...
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