Monday, January 28, 2019

Killing Turtles and News Words

From a Greepeace ad.
Today I drank a carbonated beverage through a plastic straw, the whole time nagged by the guilt of knowing that in some distant acid-laden ocean in the not-so-distant future a cute little sea turtle will die a slow, horrible death by being impaled on that very plastic straw. 

So I wrote my name on the straw before tossing it in the trash. I left a note for the cleaning people to dump my trash in the nearest ocean, the Atlantic. I hope they get mileage. Long after I've become one with our dying planet a picture of the turtle skeleton with my straw in its nostril will be posted on the interwebs and I'll gain international fame as 'Turnauckas, Slayer of Turtles'.


A pet peeve of mine is 'news words', words or phrases that get picked up by the press and used to death. It started with the BBC's Brexit coverage but now I hear uncertainty' everywhereMakes me wonder if there's someone giving instructions. 'Make sure you stress the word 'uncertainty'. News alert: Nothing in life is certain. Except, perhaps, the dire need of a thesaurus.

And it's 'unclear' why. A house burns down and the press says the cause of the fire is 'unclear'. What they really mean is that the ruins are still smoldering and nobody has a clue what started the fire. Why not just say the cause is unknown, or under investigation or so strange we can't tell you until you buy a subscription to our news service? 

'Uncertainty' and 'unclear' are perfectly good words but if I was grading essays I'd have to wonder how so many students thought they could get away with such blatant plagiarism.  

I'm certain if you listen you'll catch a lot of these 'news words' but I'm unclear why.

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