Archive | November, 2012

Euphemisms

28 Nov

Euphemisms.

Euphemisms

28 Nov

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “euphemism” as, “A figure [of speech] by which a less distasteful word or expression is substituted for one more exactly descriptive of what is intended”. What a surprise, they join the long list of things that raise my blood pressure.

The Economist Style Guide, with which I invariably agree, says that they should be avoided where possible. While it agrees that good writers should avoid giving offence, it also says, “a good writer owes something to plain speech, the English language and the truth, as well as to good manners”.

Euphemisms, which are invariably longer than the original meaning, take up valuable space; they are not only less precise, they are also less concise.

There are three  that I find particularly annoying, probably because they are used far too often:
“passed on” (or, even worse, “gone to a better place”) instead of “died” – unless you are truly religious you can’t believe anyone has passed on to anywhere;
“in harm’s way” instead of “in danger” – pointless;
“loved ones” instead of “family” or “people you love” – OK, that’s longer, but it’s less mawkish.

Please, people, let’s say what we mean!

Today’s picture

A shop front in Tunisia, taken about five years ago, but probably no longer selling Kodak film, which is now practically unobtainable.Image

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Who writes this rubbish?

11 Nov

Who writes this rubbish?.

Who writes this rubbish?

11 Nov

I’m not naïve enough to think that politicians write their own speeches, but it would be a good idea if George Osborne used his supposedly superior education to read, and edit, the words that are going to come out of his mouth.

Yesterday’s Guardian reported that on Friday Osborne announced that the European Space Agency’s headquarters for telecoms satellite monitoring will be based in Britain, as part of an extra £300m investment in space science research over the next five years. In his speech he said:

“We are now at a watershed where space is transitioning from a celebration of science endeavour into a capability that impacts on our everyday lives…Prosperity and the power it brings are shifting to new corners of the globe, to countries like China, India and Brazil. So as the prime minister has said, countries like ours are in a global race…”

OK, what is wrong with that, other than it’s gobbledygook and that a globe doesn’t have corners, let alone new corners? I think what he meant to say (though it’s hard to tell) is:

“We are now at a point where space exploration is moving from being a celebration of science to something that has an impact on our everyday lives…Since the power that prosperity brings is no longer exclusive to Western countries, the UK is now in competition with expanding economies, such as those of China, India and Brazil.”

Finally, I was pleased to see that the President of the Royal Society, Sir Paul Nurse, thanked the Chancellor for his speech, but urged him “not to forget to put your money where your mouth is”!

Today’s picture

It’s Remembrance Day today and this year also is the 60th anniversary of the Second World War’s North Africa campaign. I took this picture at a British war cemetery in Tunisia.

Image