L.I.E.S.    Language in Extreme Situations

A web against the use of Language as a Weapon of Mass Deception




La Guerra de las Palabras
The Dubya war glossary
Geov Parrish
(WorkingForChange.com, 12 marzo, 2003)

As in all military actions (can we really call this one-sided massacre a "war"?), government and media advocacy for the planned U.S. invasion of Iraq has introduced a number of confusing new words and phrases, or new usages of existing ones, to the English language. Since many of these are directly opposite of their intuitive meanings, we present here, for your helpful reference, a guide to some of these new linguistic developments. Keep this guide handy by your TV for the next time Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Franks, or any of their minions appear on your screen!                                                               Leer

Luis García Montero
(El País.,
5 abril, 2003)

Llevo días buscando las palabras robadas, imaginando una posible sustitución de las quejas duras y las maldiciones. Llamar a las cosas por su nombre es violento cuando se habla de la soga en casa del ahorcado. Asunto difícil, lo confieso, porque no me valen los eufemismos que van de boca en boca como monedas falsas. Los afectados deberían poner algo de su parte. Por ejemplo, los maltratadores podrían dejar de maltratar, los policías dejar de maltratar, los policías evitar la represión injustificada, los asesinos olvidarse de las pistolas, los genocidas de los genocidios y los mentirosos de las mentiras.  

Truth is strongest weapon in war
Jimmy Breslin
(Newsday, Inc.,
June 15, 2003)

It leaps out that the reason given to Americans for going into Iraq -- to stop them from blowing us up with nuclear weapons -- was an outright lie. It was told to America by President George W. Bush. And people died because of it. What kind of a lie and why it was told is something that only a full investigation by Congress, full and on television, can tell the public and tell us who lied and why.

Loyalty Oath
(Digby, Digby's Blog, 1-5-03) 

Regardless of whether they had bad intelligence or just bad intentions, for the administration to straightforwardly say to their supporters that the arguments they had them put forth with such fervor prior to the war were never correct and don’t matter anyway is, in effect, demanding a loyalty oath that says they are willing to give up any claim to personal integrity in support of the party. You can believe me or you can believe your lyin' eyes.
    When you add this to the ongoing and systematic attacks against any criticism of the President or his policies, you have the makings of a new order. From this, Brownshirts are made.

Language of war. Decoding the jargon of war
Nicholas Watt and Rory McCarthy
(The Guardian, 18-26/3/03)
Words of war
Thom Shanker
(The New York Times, 6/4/03)

A sampling of the latest wartime vocabulary.               

Metaphor and War, Again
George Lakoff

Metaphors can kill.  Professor Lakoff (Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley)  takes a look at the metaphorical ideas being used to justify Gulf War II.   (AlterNet, March 18, 2003)

Fighting war with words: Web site looks for a better way
(Michelle Locke, Associated Press, )

On the "Metaphor Project", a Web site that pushes the power of such positive phrases as "Save America, spare Iraq," and "Peace is patriotic" as a means to oppose war. (SFGate.com, March 25, 2003)

A bit about words - Doublespeak
Julian Burnside

Outside the realm of high art, language is intended to convey meaning.  Ideally, it should do so accurately.  Some writers and speakers betray these ideals, and use language as a sham to mask an intellectual void;  or worse, as a stalking horse for quite different ideas they dare not acknowledge.

Honesty in Language: Is This the Way to Achieve Power?
John H. Bushman (University of Kansas)

Honesty in language, according to the author, is twofold: it is of utmost importance as we hold our politicians and other leaders accountable for what they speak and write; but, just as important, we as a profession must be honest in the process that highlights this misuse of language. (English Journal, National Council of Teachers of English, 2001)


  Kid Row
Geov Parrish
(WorkingForChange.com, 1 mayo, 2003)

Children younger than 16 are being held as "enemy combatants" in the American detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military admitted yesterday, a practice human rights groups condemned as repugnant and illegal.                                                                Leer

Bush Administration deceptions about Iraq threaten democracy
Us Rep John Convers
(Speech in the House of Representatives, June 10, 2003)

"I have seen the American people apparently deceived into supporting invasion of sovereign nation, in violation of UN charter and international law, on the basis of what now appear to be false assurances. The power of the Congress to declare war was usurped. The consent of the governed was obtained by manipulation rather than candid persuasion."

Did our leaders lie to us? Do we even care?
(R. Steinback,  The Miami Herald, 29-4-03) 

   Did Bush mislead us? Was the American public duped into supporting a war that killed 128 Americans, 31 Britons and thousands of Iraqis, damaged U.S. prestige around the world and may have worsened, rather than improved, U.S. security?
   We're heading for big trouble as a nation if we aren't even concerned that our heads of state may be manipulating us by manipulating the truth. In a nation where hypocrisy is rewarded, expect more lies.

War Watch. Claims and counter claims made during the war over Iraq
Annie Lawson, Lisa O'Carroll, Chris Tryhorn, Jason Deans

"Fog" is the watchword of this war, with the lines between fact and propaganda being blurred on a daily basis. Here MediaGuardian.co.uk charts the contradictory claims and counter claims made so far.
The Guardian,

War-Speak Worthy of Milton and Chuck Norris
Geoffrey Nunberg

The language of recent wars has faded very rapidly, like the memories of our reasons for fighting them. Within a short time, "shock and awe" will be a Trivial Pursuit item — like "mother of all battles" from the 1991 Persian Gulf war. War language does a different kind of work now. What remains with us isn't the words, but the tunes they were meant to bring to mind.                (The New York Times, April 6, 2003)

Ladrones de palabra
Julio Ruiz Ruiz (Secretario General de Comisiones Obreras de Andalucía)

Con su palabrería, el partido del Gobierno nos hurta algunas palabras que siguen siendo imprescindibles: Paz, ayuda humanitaria, Constitución, etc..                  (El País, 25/3/03)

Bush doublespeak on Iraq and taxes insults our intelligence
Ralph Martire (executive director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability)

The author wonders when Americans will get straight talk from president Bush about the big decisions he's making for their country, such as the war against Iraq and his tax cut package.            (Chicago Sun-Times, 18/1/03)

With God and the Bard on our side
(Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor)

When nations go to war, the public language of politics and the media becomes a weapon of conflict. It is used to invoke a sense of solidarity, shared victimhood and a shared purpose. It promotes a sense of 'us and them' - and of right and wrong - in the coming struggle.
     As the United States marked the first anniversary of 11 September and looked forward to an invasion of Iraq, much of its public language was moving into war mode. (
The Observer, September 15, 2002)




Poema: No a la guerra
Life under the chief doublespeak officer
Dubya war glossary
Kid Row
Truth is strongest weapon in war
Loyalty oath
Did our leaders lie to us?
War watch. Claims and counter claims made during the war over Iraq
War-speak worthy of Milton and Chuck Norris
Metaphor and war, again
Language of war.Decoding the jargon of war
Fighting war with words
With God and the Bard on our side




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