Language, Politics

Geoff Nunberg has a LA Times op-ed on how difficult it is for Europeans to translate US political speech:

when foreigners are scratching their heads over the keywords of our political debates, it’s usually a sign that English is trying to get away with some semantic sleight of hand.

One example is ownership”, as in Bush’s ownership society”:

the ownership society” deftly obscures those trade-offs, conflating personal control and financial well-being. In the midst of an electoral campaign, Republicans aren’t about to point out that ownership can come down to saying you’re on your own.