Language

'Political Correctness' means pretty much zero now

You getting tired of "political correctness?" I know I am.

Maybe not in the way you are. The term is much in use by people who've appropriated it to use as a cudgel.

RIP, "blowback"

We're in the process of losing a really good word: "blowback."

How are we losing it? A lot of writers think it's a pretty cool word, and writers like to use cool words. Unfortunately, they don't know what it means. They think it means "reaction."

It doesn't. It's a word invented by CIA operatives to describe the negative, often surprising, consequences that rebound on an actor because of things that actor does in pursuit of their own objectives. It's a very special type of reaction. Here're some examples:

Seriously, folks!

I have on occasion advised spokespersons that they ought to remove the sentence, "We take [some issue] very seriously" from their quiver of PR speaking points. I explain that just about everyone confronted by an issue these days claims to take it "very seriously," even when they obviously don't, to the point where the phrase just doesn't mean anything any more. Even when I explain, I find myself confronted with looks of incomprehension. It seems like it just doesn't compute.

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