Friday, July 30, 2010


I'm a writer and a reader. I love words. As a nine year I used to sit on the floor with the enormous Webster's Dictionary open in front of me (because the book was so big and heavy I couldn't lift it) and read - for pleasure. I love the way words can make something come alive or explain something.Above all I like the clarity of words - that each has a specific meaning and function.

So, as you can imagine, I hate it when words are abused - and one thing that is certain about an election campaign is that they will be abused. We have entered the world of pre-election spin here in Australia where the vacuous and illogical slogans emerge, designed not to inform but blur. Some are, if you bother to look at them, simply insulting to the electorate. There is another abuse of language too that seems unique to politicians. This is, once you've pinned down your slogan you repeat it at least twice because all voters are so stupid that they don't get it the first time. I'm not talking about repetition for emphasis here. This is just repetition for its own sake. You know the kind that shouts at you, 'Look at me. I've thought up this really cool phrase. It's so cool I'm going to say it again. See. Isn't that cool?'. So I begin my list of these absurdities now - in alphabetical order and with no interest in which party is responsible. I'm sure you can think of many more.

'Dead, buried and cremated.' Doesn't even make sense, does it? As far as I know if you're buried you're buried and if you're cremated and a burial is planned it comes after the cremation.

'Great big new tax.' What is this tax? Is this a new tax replacing an old one? Does it mean that this is a bad tax? If so why not say it is and explain why?

'Moving forward.' From what? To where?

'Working families.' Who are these families? Those where both parents go out to work full time? Those where one works at home - caring for children or an ageing family member? Those where both work in the home caring for children and in the workforce part time? The retirees who voluntarily work for a charity? Retirees with adult children with disabilities who need on-going care not provided for by the government? Retirees with adult children still living at home?

Feel free to tell me your personal favourites.

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