Thursday, January 11, 2007

No surge

How do politicians, or their think-tanks come up with the distortion of words, a practice, which fills many linguists with wonder and/or disgust. The facts of life, as represented by words, are twisted beyond recognition. Amazing about this is how cleverly a hidden value is used, evoking certain positive sentiments in order to sell bad news. Do you remember the 'Clean Air Act' leading to more pollution? This technique is called ‘framing’ and is well explained by George Lakoff.
The latest example is ‘Surge’. In the Walmart special, 97 cent Webster Thesaurus heave, swell and grow are given as synonyms. The old ‘Webster’s New Illustrated Dictionary’ confirms some of my suspicions. The Presidential word smiths may have gotten it slightly wrong this time. Surge 1. A billow; a great roll of anything resembling a billow, as a surge of emotion, a surge of popular resentment. Right on: we say no to surge! 2. Is nautical in meaning: That part of a windlass barrel or a capstan upon which the rope surges. To rise high; to advance in volume. In a rather good translating dictionary a few relevant examples of the use of the concept of surge are quoted: Surge forward (like in pushing and jostling forward, an activity in which people get stampeded every so often), women surged around him, old feelings surged in him up, a surge of horror. That is it, the new plan for Iraq creates a surge of horror – hopefully bipartisan.

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