Thursday 11 March 2010

Boo and Hooray Terms

Some words just signal BOO or HOORAY! Eighteenth century Philosopher Jeremy Bentham called them derogatory and eulogistic terms. They sum up an entire attitude and somehow make it impossible to disagree. In fact, boo words aren't euphemisms, they're dysphemisms. The complete list will shortly be published as a mini ebook.

belch Industrial processes you don't like always "belch" smoke, sparks, fumes, sulphur, steam etc.

clinical unsympathetic, unemotional Should mean what we do in clinics (doctors use it this way).

consumerism Chavs buying chavvy things.

controversial Overused, typically to show that the writer disapproves of something ("the government's controversial academy schools scheme"). Guardian stylebook

craven The UK does what the US wants.

didactic Some time in the 80s educationists decided that teachers shouldn't be didactic, ie teach. So they have to include exercises that the children can do in couples and groups.

dutiful Has overtones of conservative or even prissy and dull. 19th century women dutifully stitched samplers. On the elm-lined streets of Washington's Fourth Ward, where residents live in neat brick houses and dutifully tend their azaleas. NYT The active membership of the Church is largely made up of devout, personally conservative and conforming people who dutifully care for their families. Web People dutifully attend meetings and lectures when they could just “attend” them. Monks are particularly dutiful.

hawking Overselling things you don't want.

institution Marriage is an outmoded institution.

march, swathe The solution is to “march Muslim children into separate institutions where, swathed in Koranic teachings and constrictive dress…” Janice Turner Times Feb 14 09 You can tell she doesn’t like the idea of faith schools, can’t you? (Subtle pejoration is often conveyed through verbs of motion or location.)

mass market, mass media, mass culture Those ghastly chavs again.

materialism Chavs buying vulgar things especially flat-screen televisions – in the olden days it was colour televisions we disapproved of.

More euphemisms here.
And here. 

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