To write that language is a tool by which we either clarify or dissemble is almost too obvious to proclaim. Still, to confuse one purpose with the other can produce high comedy. Recently the news wires carried a story about a poll printed in the Onion showing that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was more highly regarded among Americans than the country’s President, Barack Obama. Iranian news picked up the story, unaware of the Onion’s satiric intent, and so while the mullahs gloated, much of the western world broke into laughter.
Here are a few other examples of saying one thing and meaning another that deserve a smile.*
San Diego – Over 1,000 pastors are sending tapes to the IRS which contain political endorsements served up from the pulpit. They argue they are lifting the political gag to claim their right to free speech. Confusing free speech with freedom from paying taxes is a linguistic error which, no doubt, the IRS will bring to the pastors’ attention.
Tehran – In Iran, young women make up 60 per cent of the college population but recently they have been barred from a number of studies — computer science, accounting, and engineering among them. The reason given is the declining birth rate. Like the Third Reich, the government wants women to make babies not computers. Women leaders say the intent is to break the back of the feminist movement.
Belarus — The recent parliamentary election in Belarus has been declared fraudulent by European observers. Russia, a close ally of the country’s leader President Alexander Lukashenko, has called it “free and fair.”
Havana – A prominent journalist from Cuba, Mairelys Cuevas Gomez, made much of her escape to Florida recently. Her fellow expatriates point out her boyfriend lives in Florida. Freedom, her critics say, wasn’t really on her mind.
Be happy George Orwell, Newspeak is alive and well.
*[Event reported in October 5 edition of The Week pgs 7-9 ]
(Courtesy of Yahoo.com)