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    “Surge.” It’s Positively Electrifying.

    kilowatt.jpgQuote:  [The word surge] “falls into the Orwellian zone between language and politics.”  Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, speaking to the Washington Post.

    Figure of Speech:  eponym (EH-po-nym), a word made from a person’s name. From the Greek, meaning “upon a name.”

    Once again the Republicans show their mastery of rhetoric, and the media show their ignorance.  The Democrats label the president’s plan to add 20,000 troops to Iraq “escalation,” recalling the Vietnam quagmire.  Not bad, but not sexy either, and it’s hard to work into a headline.  “Surge” is much better.  It’s little.  New.  Different.  And inside that tiny word-capsule is an argument:  We’ll roll over the enemy, and then we’ll roll back.

    Should the media adopt such a rhetorically rich word?  Since they don’t know what rhetoric even is, the argument hardly comes up.  Credit media think-tanker Tom Rosenstiel for trying, at least.  He gropes for a rhetorical term and comes up with the eponym “Orwellian” — derived, of course, from the writer George Orwell, whose fictional dictators ruled through euphemism.

    But “surge” isn’t Orwellian, or even euphemistic.  Nobody is being brainwashed here.  Nor is the zone between language and politics Orwellian.  It’s rhetorical.  Then again, dear Figarist, you already knew that.

    Snappy Answer:  “And the media increasingly fall into the O’Reillyan zone between politics and gossip.”

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    Reader Comments (3)

    I think I understand why "surge" isn't Orwellian, but why would you not consider it to be euphemistic?


    Dear Scratch,
    It is indeed euphemistic, and Figaro, being a card-carrying euphemist himself, is all for it. As you know, a single expression can use all kinds of cool devices.
    January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdogscratcher
    Something off tangent Figaro. The cartoon character used to illustrate the article was known by the name Reddy Kilowatt in the Philippines. It was the corporate mascot of a local electric company named MERALCO (Manila Eletric and Railway Company). Did anyone else use that character in the United States?
    February 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCoondawwg
    In case anyone was interested:

    Reddy Kilowatt® debuted on March 11, 1926 and was created by the general commercial manager of the Alabama Power Company. In 1998 Northern States Power Company obtained the exclusive rights to Reddy Kilowatt®.

    Reddy is a familiar warm and endearing symbol in the electric industry. His distinguishing features include a red, lightning-bolt body and light-bulb nose. A number of people collect items featuring Reddy Kilowatt.

    February 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCoondawwg

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