Monday, January 5, 2009

Year in Rebuke: Major Awards

The National Council of English Teachers gave President Bush its annual Doublespeak award again in 2008. The award recognizes "language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered."
President Bush's use of the term "aspirational goal" in place of setting a deadline for withdrawal of troops in Iraq impressed the NCTE. Likewise, Bush and others have set "aspirational goals" for reducing carbon emissions and slowing global warming. The NCTE Public Language Award Committee said, “As textbook Doublespeak, ‘aspirational goal’ is both a tautology and a paradox... Aspirations and goals are the same thing; and yet when the terms are combined, the effect is to undermine them both, producing a phrase that means, in effect, ‘a goal to which one does not aspire all that much.'”
President Bush surpassed his father, who only received the award twice, and President Clinton, who only received one Doublespeak award (which he had to share with Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott.) Check out the previous doublespeak winners at: http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Involved/Volunteer/Appointed%20Groups/Past_Recipients_Doublespeak_Award.pdf

The NCTE's George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language went to Charlie Savage for his book Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.

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