Thursday, June 27, 2002

Strange English usage

Certain English usages strike me as odd.

For instance, do we "discharge" or "release" pollution? No, we "spew" it.

A few years ago National Lampoon published collections of oddball news stories called "True Facts", where they assembled a whole bunch of clippings about buses running off the road. For some reason these all used "plunge". Go ahead and Google "bus plunge" and see how many hits you get. Somebody has even written a song about it.

You might remember Hillary Clinton's "turtle on a fence post" line. The idea is that it didn't get there by itself. This must be the reason for the current vogue for "shredding" the Constitution - somebody must have tested it with focus groups, found it impressive and faxed it to all the Democrats. Or maybe it's just a sign of the times - 20 years ago when a lot of phone bills came out on punched cards, they might have said "fold, spindle or mutilate" (there's even a movie called "Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate")..

The Democrats contrived the mantra that tax cuts would "blow a hole in the deficit". Where on earth did this one come from? Usage apparently started in the 1996 Presidential campaign, and suddenly this improbable expression was heard everywhere.

Got any more examples?

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