Ed West Ed West

‘Community leader’, ‘call out’, ‘dreamer: The worst words and phrases in the English language

In this week’s magazine Rod Liddle has a piece on the worst ‘clichés, lies, evasions, obfuscations, PC euphemisms and disingenuous balls words and phrases which, in recent years, have annoyed me the most’. He was inspired by Brook Newmark’s recent shenanigans with a phantom lady and a computer, which were explained as the MP ‘battling his demons’.

Rod also includes vulnerable, community, ‘bravely fighting cancer’, vibrant, diversity and, of course, ‘wrong side of history’.

For a while I’ve been collecting my own worst words and phrases in the ever-evolving English language, a sort of dictionary of political cant that I work on to keep me sane. I suppose you’d call it politically correct English, although I find the phrase tedious and it makes people think about things like ‘baa baa white sheep’ rather than the stuff that matters. In orders words, they think PC is about politeness when mostly it is about control, in this case controlling the language, altering the meaning of words so that it becomes harder to articulate particular viewpoints. That’s the whole point, after all.

So on top of Rod’s list, I would add these:

Apartheid Any system in which some people are excluded in some way, ie absolutely everything – housing apartheid, social apartheid, educational apartheid, gender apartheid, cultural apartheid. Commonly applied to those wacko fringe-extremists who somehow think that a state should distinguish between its own citizens and those of other countries. In particular used about the Israelis, who for some – literally insane – reason would prefer not to be a minority in an Arab-dominated state.

Call out Denounce someone for having crime-thoughts, thus rendering their opinions worthless, whatever the value of their actual arguments. Probably sounded more menacing in the original Russian.

Community leader Self-appointed spokesman for a downtrodden minority whose main solution for their problems is that more money be funnelled to his organisation.

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