Everything Language and Grammar

The L-Word

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 10, 2009

If you’ve read the blog much (or Literally, the Best Language Book Ever), you know that we favor direct, honest communication over indirect, insincere, trendy, or over-inflated communication, so I was thrilled when I heard President Obama use the rarely used l-word in his speech to the Congress last night.

That’s right–Obama said lie—L…….I……..E–about a lie being spread about his proposed health care reform. He didn’t say mislead, misinform, misspeak, factually inaccurate, disingenuous, or any other trendy word or non-word instead of the direct, straightforward word lie. Here’s that part  of the speech:

Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost.  The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens.  Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible.  It is a lie, plain and simple.

I found it refreshing.

I know that the word lie is often used in politics, but it’s not typically used as a way to refute a false statement. Lie is usually reserved for use in instances when a politician wants to create a distraction about something that is, in fact, true. For instance, when a politician is accused of flying to another country to have an illicit affair, he might say “it’s a lie” two days before he admits the truth and calls himself a repentant sinner.

Or he might yell out “liar” from the back of a crowded room when an honest statement is made that he doesn’t want to hear; however, it’s rarely used as it should be–to refute a dishonest statement.

A law dictating direct communication would pass by a unanimous consent here at languageandgrammar.com

–Paul

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