Chapter 2 Lecture:
Doublespeak, a term coined by George Orwell in his book 1984, is the use of meaningless language by public figures. The Committee on Public Doublespeak, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English, makes annual awards that spotlight faulty language. One year the Doublespeak Award went to Yasser Arafat, Palestine Liberation Organization head. He said, "We do not want to destroy any people. It is precisely because we have been advocating coexistence that we have shed so much blood." Another year the award went to the nuclear power industry for inventing such phrases as "energetic disassembly" to mean explosion and "rapid oxidation" to mean fire.
Foggy communication, of course, is not confined to high government figures. A surgeon who inadvertently killed a patient by cutting his throat described it as a "therapeutic misadventure." Local city council members in Santa Monica use the following bureaucratese:
site vegetation—trees and plants
negative fund balance—a budget in debt
transportation control measure—ride sharing
negative declaration of impact—no effect
councilmanic action—take a vote
pretexting-the practice of faking someone’s identity to obtain information
Business messages have their share of doublespeak and sanity teasers, such as "Overt employee resistance is sufficient cause to nullify." (Does this mean that we'll stop because employees don't like it?) In a memo one manager wrote, "Delay could not be predicated on opposition to funding.” (Comprehension here is totally obscured by negative concepts plus the word not). In yet another example of cloudy communication, a vice president wrote that all departments were "under mandate to achieve equipment conformity". (Does this suggest an order to use similar computers?)
Realtors in Connecticut used to call a house "haunted" because its lights went off and on and doors shut themselves; they now refer to the house as "psychologically impacted." An attorney wrote the following example of legalese (or "legaldegook"): "Unilateral nullification of the terms and conditions of the expiring agreement absent bona fide impasse is prohibited." This impenetrable sentence was translated thus: "One party cannot leave the contract early without a good reason."
One must conclude that many of the expressions described above are not honest efforts at communication. Those who practice doublespeak are often attempting to obscure facts or to impress readers/listeners with lofty language.