Political Euphemisms and Ghastly Grammar

Earlier today, I tried to decide whether this weekly blog should be about political euphemisms or ghastly grammar. Virtually all they have in common is the abuse of language. English is being battered by political euphemisms as tools to make political concepts less distasteful and by ghastly grammar that makes it less precise.

When I sat down to vent my grievances, I suddenly decided that this blog would be an intellectual buffet. Perhaps you might care to nibble on one subject or the other.

Manmade Disasters

There seems to be no limit to the lengths political partisans will go to justify their prejudices. In their efforts to do so they lump together disasters that are caused by negligence with those that are deliberately planned for the killing of innocent civilians. Citing both events within the same formal definition, partisans basically equate terrorists with natural killers like earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis. At best, the difference between negligence and terrorism is the same as the difference between manslaughter and murder.

Freedom Fighters

This is one of several terms designed to support the notion that ‘one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.’ Calling a terrorist a freedom fighter is an insult to everyone who has ever fought and died for political freedom. Theocracies are emphatically not strongholds of freedom.

Flash Mobs

Convoluted arguments justifying the motives of ‘flash mobs’ do nothing to dispel my view of them as marauding mobs. There’s an unequivocal difference between stealing bread because of hunger and snatching electronic equipment in the guise of dispensing ‘social justice.’ This is not the French Revolution. I have limited ‘respect’ for a man who admits that the television under his arm is theft and that breaking storefront windows is not motivated by social rage but rather by greed, the very characteristic he purports to protest.

The verbs to go and to say

What are they doing to the language I used to know! Why are they using the verb to go in place of to say! Our language has been and continues to be enriched by wonderful additions and changes, but I fail to see the value of saying, “He goes, ‘I went to the park,’ rather than, “He said, ‘I went to the park.’’’

What happened to the verb to happen?

There is another overuse of the verb ‘to go’ that is an unnecessary substitution for the verbs to happen, to occur, to take place. English already has those three verbs to express events in any tense and with or without the use of auxiliary verbs. At best, “Tell us what went down” is at the edge of being colloquial.


I’m not alone in my objection to the current use of the word fun. Many of us cringe when we hear “We had a fun night” rather than “We had fun that night.” Fun is a noun, not an adjective. Forcing the word into another class is not merely awkward; it violates a major structural tenet of our language.

The Challenge

Easy access to information is a brilliant hallmark of The Information Age. But the age is also short on contemplation. I urge you to question words and phrases that may contain hidden political agendas or diminish the precision of our language.

There is a difference between ‘manmade disasters’ and murder that has a great deal to do with politics. There is a difference between nouns and adjectives that has nothing to do with being pedantic. There is a difference between enriching a language and diminishing it. The better part of that difference depends on you. 

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