Thursday, October 30, 2008

An easy one to do right

Here's a too-familiar turn of phrase I hadn't seen in a while:

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered airstrikes on Tripoli and Benghazi after the disco attacks that killed three, including two U.S. servicemen. The Libyans say the retaliatory attacks killed 41 people, including Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's adopted daughter, and injured 226 others.

To get the nudge-nudge part out of the way, no; the consensus is that the girl was Gadhafi's daughter from an affair (with an army officer, Kate Adie* says). But more to the point, the appropriate term for an adopted daughter is "daughter." The AP's phrasing suggests a kind of casual dismissiveness -- hey, it's not like she was a real daughter -- that ought to be out of bounds, whatever you think of Gadhafi and/or his transformation from Mad Dog of the Med to Friend of Peace.

Nice part about it? You can just correct this at your desk without asking anybody's permission! If anyone asks, you can say you didn't realize that daughters came in different grades. Or you can simply start referring to the publisher's new bride as his morganatic wife.**

* Whose "The Kindness of Strangers" contains a compelling account of the bombing and its aftermath.
** Or both! Who said ethics can't be fun?

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