Monday, December 20, 2004

The power of language

"On the Media" has an excellent pair of pieces this week explaining -- and debating -- the Chicago Tribune's decision to change style from "fetus" to "unborn child" for the third trimester.

Listen to Tribune deputy editor Randy Weissman and public editor Don Wycliff discuss the change. (Real Player)

Then listen to the rebuttal from linguist and Democratic consultant George Lakoff. (Real Player)

Both have tremendous insights on the struggles journalists have in dealing with changing -- and loaded -- language. Too often we see journalists just adopt terms wholesale without thinking ("reform" being one of my least favorites -- it isn't welfare "reform," for instance, if you are likely to lose your benefits; "change" or "changes" is much better).

(Transcripts should be available Tuesday.)

Here is Wycliff's original column on the change.

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