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Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

    — James Nicoll, May 1990, Usenet postReport

  2. Avatar CJColucci says:

    I actually prefer the other usages precisely because they are all rape, and the other usages tell us what kind of rape it is.Report

  3. Great piece Michael!

    (Although I heartily disagree with Twain on a couple points there.)

    It’s always puzzled me, that even as we coin words left and right, we seem to lack words for some concepts that desperately need them.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Picturing a writer I dislike unable to find the English words he needs for his current screed is one of my favorite forms of schadenfreude.Report

  4. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Excellent work Michael.Report

  5. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I believe this is called ‘Weasel Wording’.Report

  6. Avatar Pinky says:

    I didn’t look into this too much, but it looks like every article about Ellis uses the same phrasing. This is probably one of those cases of follow-the-leader rather than excessive euphemism. Or, I guess, it was excessive euphemism on the part of the first reporter, then everyone else played it safe.

    I’m with CJ on this, to an extent. I don’t need to know the particulars about any of these cases except for the police officer “forcing women to have sex for their freedom”. That tells me about a double crime, the rape and the abuse of power.Report

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses is one of the great essays on how not to write, another being Politics and the English Language. Its rules are

    Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.


  8. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Another example:

    “Police in Charlottesville, Va., say they have arrested a 17-year-old male in connection with a threat that ‘contained vile, racially charged language targeted African-American and Hispanic students’ at an area high school.”

    Threats are “racially charged” instead of “racist”?Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Think about how awful it would be if German were the master language. Every new concept would have to be “einen beitrittvielevörterbedeutung.” (A joining of many words to create a single meaning.”)Report

  10. Avatar InMD says:

    This was a good post and I agree. Corporate America is just as responsible as the bureaucrats. Instead of agreeing people ‘align.’ Instead of meeting people ‘circle up.’ It drives me insane and I hate it.Report