Weasel words and hyperbole

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Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Gavin » 11 Apr 2013, 12:09

We've been talking a little bit about "weasel words" recently. Words which are not very clear about what they mean. They try to elicit an emotional response while actually being very vague and more often than not entirely wrongly applied. They are usually used to excuse someone. They are words used to say one thing and mean another. They can also be used by Muslims in defence of the expansion of Islam.

We've discussed "deprived", "criminalised" and "racism" elsewhere. Let's have this thread for any more.

One that somewhat annoys me is "passionate". I suppose it's not so much a weasel word, this one actually, more a manifestation of the emotional incontinence an insincerity prevalent today - hyperbole - of which Dalrymple has often written. Nobody is just "interested in" something any more. No, they have to be "passionate about" it. "I'm passionate about accountancy". I doubt they really are passionate - I doubt they should be, either. An appropriate reply might be "We don't need someone to be passionate about [x job] we just need you to be interested in it and good at it". Someone honest, too.
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Caleb » 11 Apr 2013, 13:37

I actually am passionate about teaching, just not in the sense most people would use it. I mean in the original sense of the word passion, which relates to suffering. Actually, it would probably be an apt description for working in accountancy too!
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Charlie » 11 Apr 2013, 15:29

Quantitative easing.
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Elliott » 11 Apr 2013, 15:33

"fairness"

This used to mean justice, ie that things had happened fairly, as they should have happened, etc. Now it means that things happened in such a way as to produce an equal outcome for all parties.
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Charlie » 11 Apr 2013, 15:42

Service alignment.
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Charlie » 11 Apr 2013, 15:43

Facilitate...
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Nathan » 11 Apr 2013, 15:43

"Diversity". Let's be honest, the way most people use it it just means "an ever-smaller % of white people living in the societies that they built", only deliberately presented in a way that just makes it harder to object to.

There is a dance troupe called Diversity, of course, but while I'll give them credit for actually being racially diverse their fashion sense is almost about as uniform as it gets and they look exactly what you'd expect them to look like!
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Nathan » 11 Apr 2013, 15:56

I remember this one from a summer job I had some years ago: "flexitime".

Meaning: you'd better work whichever random and awkward shifts you're given at whatever short notice we feel like giving you so it's impossible to plan ahead for anything else going on in your life or even budget properly, since you have no idea how many hours you will be working.
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Maxwell » 11 Apr 2013, 16:26

Transformative. In an implied complimentary sense, suggesting change to be inherently good. Often used to avoid claiming that a specific benefit will be obtained. "We are supporting initiative/technology/policy XYZ, which we believe will be transformative."
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Charlie » 11 Apr 2013, 16:42

Working towards a proactive reframing trajectory, you will combine context elaborations with a dynamic process efficiency dividend and a humanness vision statement. The position aims to upkeep the intermingling and the surveying of interacting learning precincts, which will in turn impact stakeholder expectations, who are ultimately responsible for development and implementation. Consequently, by responding to the need for enhanced evidence-based decision-making, the current position will be extended to include scenario development and benchmarking. Thanks to a move into a contestable environment, we will provide opportunities going forward to be a responsive, ‘one stop shop' provider of recognition services, flexible delivery, and identified gap training. Finally, the ideal candidate will need to be adept at brokering outcomes, anachronistic spatial determinism, commitment and acknowledgement in a cross-sectoral manner. Going forward.
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Roger » 11 Apr 2013, 16:44

Yes, diversity and fairness are both regular offenders. To those perhaps I would add equality, specifically mentioning its negation inequality. In specific contexts the terms can be appropriate, e.g. economics, but all too often equality is used as a theoretical totem pole around which to dance without any deeper practical examination.

"I'm for equality, aren't you for equality?"
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Nathan » 11 Apr 2013, 16:55

Charlie wrote:Working towards a proactive reframing trajectory, you will combine context elaborations with a dynamic process efficiency dividend and a humanness vision statement. The position aims to upkeep the intermingling and the surveying of interacting learning precincts, which will in turn impact stakeholder expectations, who are ultimately responsible for development and implementation. Consequently, by responding to the need for enhanced evidence-based decision-making, the current position will be extended to include scenario development and benchmarking. Thanks to a move into a contestable environment, we will provide opportunities going forward to be a responsive, ‘one stop shop' provider of recognition services, flexible delivery, and identified gap training. Finally, the ideal candidate will need to be adept at brokering outcomes, anachronistic spatial determinism, commitment and acknowledgement in a cross-sectoral manner. Going forward.


Heh, having done EU translation work before that didn't even look like a parody to me!
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Charlie » 11 Apr 2013, 19:03

Nathan wrote:Heh, having done EU translation work before that didn't even look like a parody to me!


He he! I can well imagine! I am actually considering applying to be the head of the NHS or the EU with language like that. :-)

Although I should point out that I randomly copied and pasted the different bits from this marvellous website.

I should also like to add that although my contributions have been, shall we say, light-hearted, the other excellent examples here highlight something a bit more sinister; the kind of language and wording which would make Orwell shiver.

I look forward to seeing some more...
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Elliott » 11 Apr 2013, 19:42

Charlie, I especially liked "anachronistic spatial determinism". Oh, no! That damned anachronistic spatial determinism strikes again!
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Re: Weasel words and hyperbole

Postby Charlie » 11 Apr 2013, 20:09

Elliott wrote: Oh, no! That damned anachronistic spatial determinism strikes again!


He he!
Apparently those three words were once uttered by Australian politician Malcolm Turnbull!
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