Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Stupid News Speak

Have you noticed that there is appearing in the news media, a kind of nutty and meaningless phraseology that is peculiar to the popular press? Things like '... this senseless act of vandalism was committed in the early hours of the morning...'. Senseless act of vandalism? Like there are acts of vandalism that are sensible...?

Maybe:
Sensible vandals today sprayed graffiti over train carriages but made sure not to endanger themselves or the general public by wearing safety harnesses and protective clothing.

Here in Sydney, we have apparently just experienced 'the ugly side of racism'. This should not be confused with the redeeming side of racism which is, well, er...

Maybe:
The lighter side of racism was demonstrated in Sydney today, when white children beat and shot aboriginal children in an hilarious spoof of the early colonial encounters with the native inhabitants.

And recently the death of a famous media personality, known mostly for his astute business acumen in the field of tax 'minimisation', evoked the headline 'The Many Sides of an Enigma'.

An enigma is not like a box or other geometric figure. It doesn't have sides. Not even an inside and an outside. What is wrong with 'The Many Aspects of an Enigma', or even just simply, 'An Enigmatic Man'. Next it will be 'The Many Colours of Opportunity' or 'The Many Edges of Freedom'...

Where do these people learn this mangled form of expression? Do they ever actually think before they write? How long will it be before all language becomes entirely meaningless?


11 comments:

Blogger Joey Polanski said...

"In a senseless act o vandalism, somone pastd th werd 'DON'T' on a sign at th Namib Lead Mines.

...

On a happyer note, a lot o Namibians ... ummm ... DIDN'T.

...

Hmmm ... Prhaps that act o vandalism wunt so senseless aftr all"

March 15, 2006 11:17 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

I suspect that might have been a government initiative, and therefore doesn't qualify under the term 'vandalism'.

In the same way as marching into Iraq with guns and shooting people doesn't qualify as 'invasion' if done by a government.

March 15, 2006 11:59 AM  
Anonymous anne arkham said...

I've undertaken several acts of vandalism in my time, and every single one of them was sensible.

March 15, 2006 12:31 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Oh, like the paper bag offering in the night-deposit box ?

March 15, 2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

More disturbing than a circus full of clowns.

March 15, 2006 2:58 PM  
Anonymous anne arkham said...

Heh. I didn't actually do that. I was thinking of other things not yet blogged. Breaking and entering, mostly, and the destruction of Lisa Geraci's clock radio.

March 15, 2006 5:36 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

More reasons why I love you, Anaglyph. For my first job after college, I was a page at CBS. (You know, those kids standing around the theater on David Letterman...) I spent so much time around news people, I swore off news entirely. Now I occasionally watch it just to make fun. When we had the transit strike in December, a local newscaster kept mispronouncing "fractious" as "fractuous" and I was moments away from calling the studio to tell him what an idiot he sounded like. Another favorite hobby of mine, before Dan Rather retired, was to watch the special broadcasts he would do and take notes on every idiotic thing he said. "And here's what we don't know..." 'Twas fun, especially after a few drinks.

March 16, 2006 4:47 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

I heard a news person make a verb out of the word 'caveat' recently, as in "Now, I don't want to be caveating that..." Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

March 16, 2006 9:56 AM  
Blogger Linda+Nada said...

Could it be partly the result of this man's contribution to literature?

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001811.html

To paraphrase Terence Rattigan in The Winslow Boy, we don't care for his English.

March 16, 2006 10:44 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

"It's like mixing oil and lego..." Ha! The best phrase I've heard all year.

Bill Bailey says of the huge piles of The Da Vinci Code that tower over you as you enter bookshops, that it's the first novel ever to be sold by the kilo.

March 16, 2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Oh, BTW Anne Arkham... Lisa Geraci's clock radio?

March 16, 2006 10:53 AM  

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