Monday, April 14, 2008

Language Lament, #542

During the course of his amusing observations on the appearance of the dynamic Crocker-Petraeus duo last week, Dick Cavett spun the following wonderful observation:

What would the general be forced to say if it weren’t for the icky, precious-sounding “challenge” that he leans so heavily on? That politically correct term, which was created so that folks who are legally blind, deaf, clumsy, crippled, impotent, tremor-ridden, stupid, addicted or villainously ugly are really none of those unhappy things at all. They are merely challenged. (Are these euphemisms supposed to make them feel better?)
Well, I'll drink to that. As if a host of other language idiots were not enough, we couldn't live, think, or speak correctly till we were saved by the guardians of other people's feelings from offending anyone in any manner at any time. It's high time somebody said this. Bravo, Dick! (Yes, I know he's not the first--hardly!--to protest this ridiculous phenomenon, which unfortunately does not appear to be going away anytime soon, but it's great to see it in the New York Times.)

Indeed, after spending my entire career trapped in the Dept of Defense (not by choice, certainly, and certainly not in uniform) being daily assaulted by hideous and indefensible crimes committed on our language, I know exactly what he talking about. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you, it was painful at times for me to endure. Death by PowerPoint and death by illiteracy: that was my work life for over 30 years.

For any lovers of English, you owe to yourself to read this entire piece. It also relates a marvelous Mort Sahl observation about the gaudy display of ribbons and awards that bedeck our fearless warriors when they're in their finest plumage. Really funny.

Oh, and one other thing. Yet another resoundingly accurate description of the vile little fraud in the White House: "tinpot Genghis Kahn of Crawford, Texas." Bravo!
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