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How do you fight doublespeak? This ought to be the main concern of every political commentator, whose job is to comment on, analyze and editorialize what politicians say. But, like politicians, commentators use a language whose main purpose is to not say everything. It is made for them to address the widest possible audience, without giving offence and often by offering listeners or readers thoughts they can recognize as their own. This sort of language also exists in another more problematical form among commentators, as a kind of reflexive newspeak made up of clichés, commonplaces and metaphors involving warfare, sports or cookery. One of the more spectacular trends in the last few years is the advent of what the French call “parler cash,” meaning “rude straight talk,” as an antidote to doublespeak. “Talking rude and straight” then becomes a political— and hollow—act in itself, for which journalists are equally responsible since they are constantly working live with the Internet and 24-hour news channels. On the other hand, everything that is said can now be stored and classified on digital media. The archives of politics are becoming available to all and anyone can use the Internet to access anything a politician has ever said. This is a welcome development for the relationship between discourse and commentary, after decades of blood relationships between politicians and political commentators.


  • journalists
  • political commentators
  • discourse
  • coherence
  • internet archives
Thomas K. Legrand
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