18 August 2005

Weasel words

This bit extracted from Fox News website. Can you spot the weasel word?

The camp has grown to more than 100 people, including many relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq (search).

Yes, you got it. The weasel word is "many". At first read it implies a sizeable number. But then you realize they're only talking about 100 people, so just how "many" of that 100 are relatives of KIAs?

Weasel words are very, very subjective, and their use is dependent on the objective of your communication. (1) To persuade? (2) To inform? or (3) To entertain? MSM should primarily be concerned with accomplishing the second choice, information. But, regretably, they seem to want to sprinkle a dose of persuasion in the mix.

And that's the way it is.

Yeah, you betcha, Walter.

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