David Mandl on Sat, 25 Aug 2007 14:49:16 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> language virus

Hi Keith--

I don't see anything special about that phrase. I think it's just
one example of a well-known (and growing) phenomenon where people
choose an obscure, wordy, pretentious, or impressive-sounding (usually
Latinate) phrase in preference to a simple (usually Anglo- Saxon)
one. In any corporate office, or in any speech by a prevaricating
politician, you'll hear terms like "at this time" and "facilitate"
constantly. I think there are two explanations for this: (1)
obfuscation (politicians and cops) and (2) attempts to talk fancy
(insecure middle- or lower-middle-class people, or executives). Orwell
wrote about this phenomenon decades ago in the essay "Politics and the
English Language."

Anyone who's had to edit young or inexperienced writers has had to
deal with this stuff a lot--basically pruning the hell out of overly
flowery language ("Never use one word where eight will do").



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