Death Sentences: How Clichés, Weasel Words, and Management-speak are Strangling Public Language
A brilliant and scathing polemic about the sorry state of the English Language and what we can—and must—do about it.
When was the last time you heard a politician use words that rang with truth and meaning? Do your eyes glaze over when you read a letter from your bank or insurance company addressing you as a valued customer? Does your mind shut down when your employer starts talking about making a commitment going forwardor enhancing your key competencies? Are you enervated by in terms of, irritated by impactful, infuriated by downsizing, rightsizing, decruiting, and dejobbing? Does business process re-engineeringand attritingfail to give you ramp-up—in terms of your personal lifestyle?
Today’s corporations, news media, education departments—and, perhaps most troubling, politicians—speak to us and to each other in clichéd, impenetrable, lifeless babble. Toni Morrison has called it the “disabled and disabling” language of the powerful, “evacuated language,” and “dead language.” Orwell called it “anesthetic” language. In Death Sentences, Don Watson takes up the fight against it: the pestilence of bullet points, the dearth of verbs, the buzzwords, the weasel words and cant, the Newspeak of a kind Orwell could not have imagined.
Published in Australia in November 2003, Death Sentencesgained a massive following among the legions of bright, sensitive people who Could Not Take It Anymore. More than a year later, it remains a national bestseller.
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