The downside of language

I, presumably like most people who consider themselves intelligent, enjoy wordplay. I like using sematics in humour, and pointing out the ideosyncracies of words. I’ve been know to make points of explicit vs. implicit meaning in words.

But the current Administration of our American neighbours have made such a mastery of semantics, such a mockery of meaning vs. intent that it astounds me. This is just the latest in a series of linguistic obsfucations that have come out of the various mouths of this Administration as they try to side-step every accusation levied at them, while having used the exact same terms to imply more than was being said (and perfectly happy to let the media run with those scissors) when it suited them. The various testimonies (Condoleeza Rice’s in particuar) were fascinating from a language point of view, but horrifying to see how they are able to shift responsibility from themselves into these abstract linguistic terms. ‘The Process’, ‘Structure’, ‘System’, ‘War on Terror’ — all of these somewhat inherently meaningless and blameless terms have suddenly become the root of all ills in the Administration.

I suppose this strain of skullduggery really came to the fore with Clinton’s prevarications over the meaning of intercourse, so perhaps these latest cases are just the logical extensions of it, but it’s sickening.

(Totally aside, I’m pretty pleased that I got to use skullduggery in a post. I really like that word)

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