Tumbrils and the English Language
Posted on Feb 11, 2012
As George Orwell pointed out more than half a century ago, the storehouse of the English language occasionally needs a good sweep. In the hands of excited, careless or tired writers, words and phrases that once were new or uniquely descriptive become so overused that they seem to threaten the integrity of the language itself. With a broom (or rather, cartwheel) in hand, CounterPunch editor Alexander Cockburn attempts a cleaning. —ARK
Alexander Cockburn at Creators:
Next up: “iconic.” I trip over this golly-gee epithet 30 times a day. No warrant for its arrest is necessary, nor benefit of counsel or trial. Off to the tumbrils, arm in arm with “narrative.” These days everyone has a narrative — an earnest word originally recruited, I believe, by anthropologists. So we read “according to the Pentagon’s narrative…” Why not use some more energetic formulation, such as “According to the patent nonsense minted by the Pentagon’s press office…”? Suddenly, we’re surrounded by “narratives,” all endowed with equal status. Into the tumbrils with it.