The Guardian • Issue #2083

WEASEL WORDS

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2083
Weasel Words heading

Antidote

Nine’s Rob Harris thought that the news that a Danish prince whose wife used to be Australian is now a king might be “an antidote, perhaps, to months of horror headlines”. Yeah, right. All it takes is the coronation of a guy whose wife was once Tasmanian and we’re all over the whole genocide thing. I’ll leave it to Harris to let the surviving Palestinians know.

Flexidus

This word is formed by mashing together ‘flexible’ and ‘exodus’, as well as by blaming workers for decisions that bosses take. Tech giants like Google, Apple, and Amazon, who make a lot of their obscene profits from making it easier to work at home, are demanding that their staff stop working at home and get back to the office for 2-3 days a week. ‘Flexidus’ describes the possibility that a lot of staff might leave jobs rather than have working from home snatched away from them.

According to ‘HR Leader,’ a human resources website that always acts startled at any signs that workers don’t have unconditional love for employers, “Four out of five flexible workers want work-from-home flexibility, but many employers have begun demanding people return to the office. If a lot of the staff leave, it’ll be a ‘flexidus.’ ”

Our hearts bleed for Amazon, a company that keeps ambulances on standby rather than air-condition warehouses. It’ll serve them right if they get a flexidus, or at least a resign-a-rama. 

Occurred

The passive voice is really useful for hiding responsibility.  Just say “A car crash occurred” instead of “I ran into a fence” and you’re there! This handy grammatical trick is getting a real workout when it comes to Israel’s ongoing genocide in Palestine. Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles has passive-voiced US attacks on Yemen too. The attacks have “occurred”, as has Australian support in some way Marles won’t describe.

Targeted

Of course passive voice isn’t the only way to make a lethal attack seem sort of reasonable. British Foreign Secretary and former Prime Minister David Cameron has described airstrikes on Yemen as “targeted” as well as “proportionate”, “legal” and “necessary.” Here we have the weaselly use of redundancy – because if you think about it, every air strike is targeted. That’s how you hit the target.

Trouble (having it with multiculturalism)

Proving that while you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, you can rely on an old weasel to repeat the same tricks, very former Prime Minister John Howard has confessed to a far-right audience in London that he’s “always had trouble with multiculturalism.” Howard has been publicly disliking the idea that non-anglos can both live in Australia and enjoy their culture since the mid-1980s, so there’s at least some novelty in him talking about multiculturalism as though it’s the remote for the new television.

Profound

Originally meaning ‘deep’, but also meaning ‘serious’, ‘profound’ is often an empty adjective. It makes other words seem more serious without actually saying anything. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is off to Israel where she plans to express Australia’s “profound concern there are increasingly few safe places for Gazans.” This concern isn’t profound enough for Australia to join South Africa in taking Israel to court for genocide, or to demand a ceasefire using that influence we supposedly have with the United States. It’s just profound.

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