D-Speak or Not?

Doublespeak's Results

Doublespeak is insidious because it can infect and eventually destroy the function of language, which is communication between people and social groups. -William Lutz

Such doubletalk is doubly dangerous: Besides deceiving those
on the receiving end, it helps the users fool themselves.
-Hugh Rawson


So, what's the all the fuss about doublespeak? Nearly everyone uses it, we see it everywhere--as long as we know it's out there, it can't affect us, right? WRONG!! Doublespeak corrupts thought, destroys communication, and erodes trust.

Doublespeak Corrupts Thought

Think of it this way: language is the basis of all human communication. In fact, it may not be too farfetched to say that language forms the basis of all human actions. After all, we use language to think, to make decisions, to express our thoughts and feelings on issues. Then, we act as a result of processing information, which we can only do by using language. So, the language we hear and use in our everyday lives influences us and helps shape our opinions to a greater degree than we probably realize. If the language we hear and read is corrupt and misleading, it will corrupt and mislead our thought processes.

Doublespeak Destroys Communication

Not only does language affect how we think and act, it also affects our ability to communicate with other people. To discuss issues intelligently, we must use the language that we all agree on. If some people or groups use their own language of doublespeak that hides the truth and misleads the receivers of the message, then open, honest discussion cannot take place. In other words, we cannot truly relate with others. As Lutz notes, ". . . it is only through clear language that we have any hope of defining, debating, and deciding the issues of public policy that confront us."

Doublespeak Erodes Trust

Not only does the language of doublespeak corrupt thought and destroy the ability to communicate, it also destroys relationships by eroding trust. Our nation is founded on the idea of free speech--of open, honest discussion of ideas and issues. When we hear doublespeak from all sides--government, education, the advertising industry, the media--we begin to be cynical and distrustful toward these institutions. This attitude of distrust then adds yet another barrier to true, open communication.

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©1998 by Michele Damron
Write me with your comments.
Last updated 4/30/98.