Thursday, February 26, 2009

Words shouldn't be abused like this.

I am a writer, and I love words. A sculptor loves shape, a painter loves color, a composer loves sound. These things are the most basic components of the art. Words are mine. I love words.

That's why I hate to see them abused. When a politician uses the word "investment" when he really means tax, or a military spokesmonster says "collateral damage" because "killed innocents" is too true, or a political activist decides "gay" sounds better than homosexual, I object to that. Investment, collateral, damage and gay are all words with specific meanings that predated some speechwriter's spin. They deserve better treatment.

Here's another one I just encountered today, while reading Wendy and Brad McElroy's blog. Brad says,

Newspeak is alive and well. Big-government fanboys of all political stripes have taken to using the word "preprivatization" instead of "nationalization," when referring to banks and other financial enterprises. The "N" word, you see, has implications they'd rather not bring up. They'd rather construct the charade that passing through government hands is just a brief administrative step on the way to private ownership....obscuring the inconvenient fact that they have to deprivatize the banks as the first step.

He didn't link this to anything, and it was possible that the word is now all over the place and I hadn't encountered it because the truth is I haven't done much surfing the past couple of weeks. So I decided to do a news search for "pre-privatization." And sonuvagun, I got 92 hits. Some of these were editorial comments on the word itself, it's true: It doesn't seem to have become the latest zeitgeist equivalent of "gravitas." But it is out there. I went looking for a source, and especially liked (which, in JoelSpeak, means disliked) this one:

I am coming out in favor of nationalization in the United States. The efforts to fix the banking system to date have failed. As a result, America is still threatened by the menace of systemic risk. In my view, this risk can only be diminished significantly by ‘pre-privatizing’ large, bankrupt institutions. I am talking about temporary nationalization of a few institutions rather than a wholesale longer-term government ownership of the banking sector. I will often use the word ‘pre-privatization’ because the word nationalization conjures up a Hugo Chavez-style asset confiscation which I believe is not accurate and clouds the picture.

I suppose you have to respect the relative honesty here: He's in favor of bank nationalization and says so, but thinks "pre-privatization" just sounds better. I don't know this Edward Harrison from Adam, so maybe he's new at this. Eddy, a word of advice: When you coin a new word like this, everybody already knows you're lyingobfuscating, okay? It isn't necessary - and in fact you're not supposed - to come out and say so in the first paragraph.

1 comment:

Junker said...

Liars and cheaters and thievesOh My!

A sign of our times. Although I’m more worried about the local thugs burning my house down because I don’t shut up about their ill doings.

Give the pooches a hug and a walk. Time better used than with pre-privatizers, eh?