Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Weasel words

Don Watson, of Death Sentence fame, has set up a new website on weasel words.
It's a great pot-stirrer in the 'battle' to rescue our language from political spin, managerial verbiage and marketing fairy-floss.
They say:
This website is part of the fight back against the decay of public language. As it says in the Dictionary, let's make de-weaseling a key competency.
It's not apparent exactly who is behind the website, but I am sure Watson himself is involved. But this is no publicity gimmick. The website seems to do more than compliment his new book: Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Cliches, Cant and Management Jargon (the dictionary referred to). If we can judge the site by the response it has received from people who've sent in weasel words and other dastardly acts against language, the website is serving a deep need to vent.

That's right. You're encouraged to send in examples of weasel words etc or to 'dob in' a weasel word user, which are included on the 'language crimes' page! You can even make your confession as one who uses weasel words etc!

I would dob-in Queensland's head policeman, Bob Atkinson, who came up with a doozy when commenting on
Aboriginal people on Palm Island rioting (see my earlier post). Community anger broke into rioting when they heard the news of the Coroner's report on the injuries suffered by an Aboriginal man who had died in police custody. Atkinson claimed that the man and a police officer had fallen during a scuffle as they were getting him out of a divvy van. Atkinson's weasel words:
"it is my understanding that the injuries sustained by the deceased person were entirely consistent with that version of events."
Such inane words that smack of insincere back-covering. And people wonder why the Aboriginal community there hate the cops so much?


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