Friday, September 21, 2001

The Tyranny of Words

Taken from A.Word.A.Day Mail Issue 48
From: Roland Killick (
Subject: Words or Propaganda

,,,perhaps a more relevant use of AWAD would be to watch how words are used in the media to create certain feelings. Here are four examples, (my quotes):

(1) During the first couple of days TV coverage I saw here in Sydney, the subtitle couplet read:
"search" for survivors
"hunt" for terrorists

(2) Initially the innocents who died were victims of a "criminal attack". Later they became victims of a "war", presumably having the same status as the future "collateral damage" in Afghanistan or Iraq as a consequence of the retaliation / vengeance.

(3) I just saw a reporter who couldn't have been more that 30 years old comparing the WTC scene with "Dresden" and "WW2" rather than with "Kabul" or

(4) This crime is described as "sophisticated", when security personnel fear that it is frighteningly straightforward.

If we keep our eyes open, I'm sure we will find more interesting examples of words chosen for their reactive power. And perhaps this is necessary to align world citizens to a common political position. Or perhaps it is jingoism or propaganda. Or perhaps the choice of these words depends on the reaction one wishes to provoke in the reader.

No comments: