THE National Council of Teachers of English publishes a...

Salmagundi

August 18, 1994

THE National Council of Teachers of English publishes a useful newsletter, Quarterly Review of Doublespeak, which monitors the desecration of the English language by advertisers, business people, educators, politicians, bureaucrats, public relations practitioners, military people and, yes, journalists.

The review has no sacred cows; it often takes on political correctness, particularly when the practitioner of p.c. uses euphemism and double talk to correct the incorrect.

For example, the review's July issue mentions new rules at our sister newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, which appear to go way overboard. Times writers are instructed to substitute the nine-syllable phrase "individual who cannot hear" for the monosyllabic "deaf."

Also banned is "handicapped." The idea is that handicaps exist outside the so-called "handicapped" person and thus are of the world, not of the individual.

Columnist John Leo, writing in U.S. News & World Report, calls the "handicapped" rule his "favorite Orwellian touch." "For a person in a wheelchair, the handicap is not leglessness but stairs," writes Mr. Leo.

Also cited in the July review is the "Famous Flavor Chicken Smoked Sausage" of our own Parks Sausage Co. The review notes: "In smaller but (to be fair) legible letters under the word 'Smoked' we read 'Pork and Beef Added.'

"Is it that only the smoke is 'chicken'? One envisions a pyre of Frank Perdue rejects under a giant rotisserie of cows and pigs."

The review is nonpartisan and nonprofit. It's available for $10 a year from the National Council of Teachers of English, 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096.

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