Unspeak

September 1st, 2006 Books & Publishing, Good Reading

A UK Guardian reporter, Steven Poole laments the way language been re-engineered and accepted through media saturation in the modern age. He believes many of the catchphrases both politicians and the news media enshrine (such as ‘terror suspects’ and ‘climate change’) mean nothing or deny the truth, that the media and world leaders are successfully and intentionally using language to distort world events.

It’s a valid point but there are flaws. Poole seems to think the innocuous-sounding terms the Pentagon issues to describe the goings on at Abu Gharib prison will make us all fall for the spin and dismiss the plight of torture victims as a result.

That’s just one example of how some of Poole’s arguments require a stretch of the imagination. We all know what the War on Terror entails, but despite living with it for five years and having our own opinions about the real story behind it, Poole argues over small-scale semantics that make little difference.

He’s also by turns a little too lofty and loquacious and a little subjective, sometimes using sarcastic or sneering remarks. It’s stuff he wants you to be thinking, but if a writer does his job, you will be without him/her having to veer off the course of serious reportage to say it.

Good but a little paranoid.

***


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