Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When zombies talk to the media

No, probably not. But you have to admit the ouija board is probably cheaper than the cell phone, interview-wise.

The Fair-n-Balanced Network might wish to attend to a few other things if it wants to preserve its image as uncritical promoter of all things military. This guy is an American, not an "Iraq officer." For that matter he's a PFC, not an officer ("officer" is a good shorthand for cops, but not for MPs). "Electrocuted," of course, means ... other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?



Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

A rather large number of people* do not believe that electrocution has to be fatal. This is probably due to the fact that we have no verb meaning "to receive an electric shock" - you must admit that "US PFC says he was shocked in shower" would not convey the right impression.

There are an awful lot of "X electrocuted to death" headlines out there.

* I confess the usage doesn't bother me in the least.

9:18 AM, January 27, 2009  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

PS - I really expected this to be an "Iraqi was tortured" story - or, given it's Fox, an "Iraqi lies about being tortured" story - not a "shoddy government contractor" story. Quel surprise!

9:20 AM, January 27, 2009  
Blogger Strayhorn said...

Jeeze, since it was a KBR job I'm surprised the water worked. Or maybe they thought the electricity was a feature, not a bug.

9:28 AM, January 27, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of people do believe you must be "electrocuted to death" sted electrocuted, but it's that sort of misuse that muddles up the language and reduces specificity, sort of like Calvin & Hobbes: Words mean what I want them to mean." Decimated used to have a really good meaning, 10 percent or so of people died (from Romans killing every 10th man). Now it's just a synonym for "devastated."

8:34 AM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

I'm all about keeping 'electrocute' for a form of death. But the Libra in me (he said, laughing zodiacally) has to admit that I've already bought into a pretty huge extension of its meaning: originally, it was a kind of execution, not just a kind of death.

I don't think we're ever going to be able to control 'decimate' (I think I threatened to decimate a class one day, but it didn't do any good). Maybe it'll grow up and settle down someday.)

People are always going to do weird stuff because it sounds cool, alas. I just heard a congressman on NPR say 'focus like a laser', which always makes me think: Where's the focus knob?

8:46 AM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Problem is, many more people get electrical shocks than die from it, as executions or not. The parallel is "shot" - you can be "shot to death" or just "shot". We don't have a good verb for what happened to that soldier, and English hates to be periphrastic on common occurrences (hence all the verbing...).

And we don't need "decimate" in its original sense. When was the last time anybody shot every tenth soldier in a rebellious military unit, anyway? When words aren't useful, they mutate or die.

1:26 PM, January 28, 2009  
Blogger Strayhorn said...

Last documented decimation was at Stalingrad, practiced by the Russians. There are several oral accounts of the decimation of VC units by NVA units - whether this was as punishment or political purge depends on the witness - shortly after the Tet Offensive.

ObGeek: decimation goes on all around you, especially if you listen to commercial radio. EndGeek.

3:43 PM, January 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I had no idea electrocution meant anything more specific than getting hurt by an electric shock.

(For what it's worth, the dictionary that comes with OS X says it means to "injure or kill someone by electric shock", so it looks like I'm not alone.

The second (non-method-of-executing) definition in the OED says "kill or injure" too.)

2:37 PM, January 29, 2009  

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