Don Watson's ‘Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Clichés, Cant & Management Jargon’ was first published in 2004, and while some of the words and terms listed in it appear to be irrelevant or outdated in this day and age (2014), the majority of them have truly gone mainstream.
Watson, who used to be a speechwriter and adviser for former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, cautions that “this dead, depleted, verbless jargon is becoming the language of daily life.” And sadly, despite the plain language movement, an ever-growing market for effective writing workshops and advocates like George Orwell, Steven Poole, John Rentoul and Watson himself, it has become the vocabulary of our lives.
Watson’s dictionary is still useful, fulfills a purpose; at the very least to document how the use of language has changed in the last decade. Many of the quotes from politicians, media releases, newspaper articles or corporate brochures he uses as examples for the listed terms are dated and would be meaningless to younger readers. Likewise, the humorous definitions and interpretations, some of which may have been funny at the time, have long lost their punch. Watson also often replaces well-known literary quotes with weasel words to drive his point, e.g. “Much ado in terms of nothing”, “And God saw the light, that it was quality.” - a device I soon grew tired of.
While I enjoyed the introduction, a passionate case for active, meaningful and strong language, the following dictionary, which kicks off with "about (it’s)" and ends with "zero latency" felt stale. Perhaps it's time for a revised and updated edition.
For a contemporary take on clichés and jargon, I recommend John Rentoul’s ‘ The Banned List.(Which may become outdated in a few years too. But at least, unlike Watson’s dictionary, I picked that one up at the right time.)
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|Title||Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Cliches, Cant & Manage|
|File size||4.6 Mb|
|eBook format||Hardover, (torrent)|
|Book rating||4.41 (51 votes)
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