Empty Words, &c

Even I feel the need to rant at times. Of course, being a nerd, and a language geek, this had to happen sooner or later. Prepare yourself... this won't be pretty.

Obscene profits - This is such an open-ended term... Frankly, it's open-ended to the point of meaninglessness. There's no marker on the map that says "beyond here, there be obscene profits". While the term is certainly descriptive, application of it is based entirely on feelings, as far as I can tell... Not exactly the best choice when dealing with something expressed in hard numbers.

Decimate - I almost cried when I looked this up on Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary and found that they've included the misuse of the word (3 a : to reduce drastically especially in number b : to cause great destruction or harm to) as an entry. It shouldn't come as any surprise, then, that I'm rather a fan of the portion of the Wikipedia entry on current usage of the term... that being, "In current English use, the word decimation has been bastardized through misuse to such an extent that many people now believe that it refers to an extreme reduction in the number of a population or force, usually greater than the one tenth specified above." Besides, there's already a perfectly acceptable word beginning with D that suits the purpose of describing "great destruction or harm", though the technical definition of it includes "by violent action". (Then again, the original decimations would suit that point right down to their shoes.) That word, of course, is devastate.

Funding cuts - In reference to government programs, nine times out of ten (and that's probably underestimating it), this actually means reduction in the amount of money the program would have received over what it gets currently. To put it more simply, if it gets 100$ this year, and was going to get 150$ next year, but instead gets slated to get 140$ next year instead, that's a cut... even though it's getting more money.

I'm sure there are plenty more of these out there, but if I keep going right now, my blood pressure is going to reach dangerous levels. Being rather explosion-averse, we're calling it for today... Though, I'll probably pick it back up later.

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