Weasel Words: The Dictionary of American Doublespeak

Weasel Words: The Dictionary of American Doublespeak

by Paul Wasserman, Don Hausrath
     
 

Weasel Words: The colorful words that narrow the range of thought, inflate language, avoid responsibility, alleviate the discomfort of a waffling speaker, make the bad sound good, are at variance with the real or purported meaning, are a misnomer, euphemism, evasion, or are simply delightful forms of flim-flam identified by the two distortion detectives.

Overview

Weasel Words: The colorful words that narrow the range of thought, inflate language, avoid responsibility, alleviate the discomfort of a waffling speaker, make the bad sound good, are at variance with the real or purported meaning, are a misnomer, euphemism, evasion, or are simply delightful forms of flim-flam identified by the two distortion detectives. From A to Z––this hard-hitting, politically savvy dictionary takes on all those American evasions, put-on-holds, distortions, circumventions, obfuscations, and misleading terms that constantly besiege us in today’s “spinning” world, as well as popular catch phrases that simply annoy. Now when you listen to politicians, academics, bureaucrats, and television’s talking heads, or get sent on an endless round of recorded euphemisms on the telephone when you are trying desperately to get help or clarification––you’ll really understand what you are hearing. The authors, both veterans of government and academia, provide a handbook for deciphering such weaseling jewels as: · amicable often followed by agreement, meaning both sides were mutually disgruntled by the outcome · economically disadvantaged for poor · encore TV broadcast the rerun ad nauseum of previously broadcast television programs. · episode a bureaucratic term used by governments and power companies to indicate a hazardous condition resulting in illness and death due to excessive pollution or radiation leaks. · mild irregularity for the last unmentionable on TV, constipation. · negative economic growth for recession. · mobile home community for trailer park · o.g.a. for “other government agency,” used by the military at overseas interrogation sites to indicate the Central Intelligence Agency · sound science for anti-environmental policies that ignore scientific evidence. The authors provide a guide to the rich and varied language of deception, evasion and cant threatening today’s society useful for students of English, business ethics, government and popular culture. They you and other connoisseurs of clear English and fed-up progressives to help them stamp out weasel words and get to the heart of what’s wrong with our society today––one “weasel word” at a time. From A to Z––this hard-hitting, politically savvy dictionary takes on all those American evasions, put-on-holds, distortions, circumventions, obfuscations, and misleading terms that constantly besiege us in today’s “spinning” world. Now when you listen to politicians, academics, bureaucrats, and television’s talking heads, or get sent on an endless round of recorded euphemisms on the telephone when you are trying desperately to get help or clarification––you’ll really understand what you are hearing. The authors, both veterans of government and academia, search for the real meaning behind such weaseling understatements of truth as: · economic adjustment for recession when business is bad; · broad abstractions for unacceptable ideas, · preemptive counterattack for an attack on another country when U.S. allies might not agree with our policy; · pre-owned for used when disguising the age of a car; Weaseling politically correct euphemisms such as: · economically disadvantaged" for poor when politicians are downplaying their needs; and · sound science for anti-environmental policies that ignore scientific evidence. The authors invite other connoisseurs of clear English and fed-up progressives to help them stamp out weasel words and get to the heart of what’s wrong with our society today––one “weasel word” at a time.

REVIEWS

"It skewers politicians and journalists, military leaders and academics, for filling - or as the dictionary might have it, ‘cross-pollinating’ - their speech with phrases that mean nothing....One thing is for sure: anyone who reads 'Weasel Words' will find himself well-equipped to avoid clichés like the plague."
Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse, 2005/11/10

"Most of its entries are...slogans and buzzwords. But the book does list some whopping examples of jargon, from ‘approved interrogation techniques’ (which means ‘legal torture,’ the authors say) to ‘zone of proximal development (ZPD),’ a category covering what a child cannot do without adult guidance – ‘such as riding a bicycle,’ the authors say, ‘or wearing sensible clothes.’"
Nathan Bierma, "On Language", The Chicago Tribune, 2005/12/14

"One of the most disturbing recent words, says Wasserman, is extraordinary rendition," which the authors define as 'The Bush II Administration's name for outsourcing of torture by using U.S. agents to take alleged terrorists to countries outside the footprint of U.S. legislation.' Using slogans and broad abstractions to cloak reality isn't a recent government ploy, but Wasserman says it happens more frequently now. 'Part of the problem is that it has become so commonplace and (the population) has become immune to it. We take the terms that have no meaning or very little meaning and accept them instead of asking for the truth.'" "
Cynthia Pasquale, Denver Post, 2005/12/30

"Decoding doublespeak...George Orwell coined the term ‘doublethink,’ which means the ability to believe contradictory ideas simultaneously. ‘Doublespeak,’ as authors Paul Wasserman and Don Hausrath explain in their new book, ‘Weasel Words: The Dictionary of American Doublespeak,’ connotes ‘distortions and obfuscations and marketplace flim-flam.’ These two men, who've both taught at the University of Maryland, give Orwell his due. From the hundreds of words and phrases so expertly redacted by Wasserman and Hausrath, here's a partial list in three arbitrary areas: computers, work and war."
Newsday, Newsday, 2006/01/04

"There is a new book out titled ‘Weasel Words.’ It is an attempt to deconstruct ‘doublespeak.’ The authors, Paul Wasserman and Don Hausrath explain the distortions and marketplace flim-flam that inundates our language."
Craig Bucher, Cumberland (WI) Advocate, 2006/01/11

"In ‘Weasel Words: The Dictionary of American Doublespeak,’ University of Maryland professors Paul Wasserman and Don Hausrath shine the spotlight on language that obscures rather than illuminates."
American Journalism Review, American Journalism Review, 2006/03

"For those who are tired of incomprehensibility, there is a new handy reference book: ‘Weasel Words: The Dictionary of American Doublespeak’ by Paul Wasserman and Don Hausrath. This book, if used properly, should make you think twice before saying ‘pre-owned,’ instead of ‘used,’ or speaking of people who have a ‘credibility gap,’ instead of calling them liars. "
Sacramento Bee , Sacramento Bee , 2006/02/28

"An entertaining guide to the culture and politics of the day. "
Midwest Book Review, Midwest Book Review, 2006/03

“Paying homage to George Orwell’s doublethink and newspeak, Wasserman (emeritus, information sciences, U. of Maryland) and Haurath (retired, Senior Foreign Service) decipher terms—such as abdominal protector, axis of evil, and zippies—that are misleading, euphemistic, misnomers, politically correct, or trendy. Weasel word is not defined, but one readily gets the idea. Indexing is by terms in areas from business to science and technology.” Book News, 2006/05/17

“From ‘abdominal protector’ to ‘zippies,’ this little dictionary is a delightful take on modern American culture . . . With a sharp political eye and ample wit, Wasserman and Hausrath zero in on the misnomers, euphemisms, evasions and simple flim-flam that litter contemporary political an professional discourse.” Foreign Service Journal, 2006/11/01

“Given the frequency of weasel words in all forms of media, copies of this reasonably priced volume for the reference desk and the reference shelves would be a good investment.” American Reference Books Annual , 2007/03/01

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It skewers politicians and journalists, military leaders and academics, for filling - or as the dictionary might have it, ‘cross-pollinating’ - their speech with phrases that mean nothing....One thing is for sure: anyone who reads 'Weasel Words' will find himself well-equipped to avoid clichés like the plague."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933102078
Publisher:
Capital Books, Incorporated
Publication date:
11/14/2005
Series:
Capital Ideas Series
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.48(d)

Meet the Author

Don Hausrath retired from the Senior Foreign Service in 1995. Since then he has served as an adjunct at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies and at Gavilan College in California. He was co-author of WASHINGTON DC FROM A TO Z and lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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