Friday, October 2, 2015

Quote of the Day (John Leo, on How ‘Journalese’ Is Like Latin)

“Like Latin, journalese is primarily a written language, prized for its incantatory powers, and is best learned early, while the mind is still supple. Every cub reporter, for instance, knows that fires rage out of control, minor mischief is perpetrated by Vandals (never Visigoths, Franks or a single Vandal working alone) and key labor accords are hammered out by weary negotiators in marathon, round-the- clock bargaining sessions, thus narrowly averting threatened walkouts. The discipline required for a winter storm report is awesome. The first reference for seasonal precipitation is ‘snow,’ followed by ‘the white stuff,’ then either ‘it’ or ‘the flakes,’ but not both. The word ‘snow’ may be used once again toward the end of the report, directly after discussion of ice-slicked roads and the grim highway toll.”—John Leo, “Journalese, or Why English is the Second Language of the Fourth Estate,” in Russell Baker’s Book of American Humor, edited by Russell Baker (1993)

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