Saturday, December 23, 2006

Get a Thesaurus

It's a few days early to be making New Year's resolutions but here's one of mine for the coming year. Or rather, one I hope others will adopt.

We need to be smarter, less willing, to accept and use the language of anyone else when writing about that person or an entity.

Here are some we need to get rid of or at least not use as our own:

Boots on the ground. This phrase was getting mighty tired at least a year ago but in recent weeks I've heard or read it applied to the Mt. Hood search, Iraq, of course, and several police actions against criminals.

New way forward. If we're writing specifically about President Bush's description of whatever the plan in Iraq turns out to be, that's one thing. But there's no reason for us to adopt it wholesale.

Surge. This one is especially egregious. What distinguishes a surge from an increase, in the case of talking about the number of soldiers based in Iraq? There may be a reason to use this word in some limited fashion but the fact that the White House is using it isn't one of them.

IED. The military loves its acronyms, from FUBAR to CINCPAC. We should call an IED what it is--a bomb, a damned, murderous, usually roadside bomb. IED sanitizes it for no reason I can see.

This is not to knock or nitpick the intentions of the White House. It IS a complaint about our over-eagerness to adopt the language used by one group, often at the expense of a factual, non-partisan explanation or account of something.

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