Omar Mateen Had a “Modern Sporting Rifle” The firearms industry doesn’t call the gun he used in Orlando an assault weapon. It prefers a less threatening name.

“Modern sporting rifle is a euphemism that the gun industry created in 2009 to describe modular semi-automatic rifles. The phrase is an artful attempt to recast weapons such as the MCX and the AR-15 (and its variants) as all-American toys. Never mind “quiet and deadly” and “close-quarters battle”: Modern sporting rifle conjures up images of aristocrats riding with their hounds, vacationers knocking clays out of the sky, and ruddy-faced athletes enjoying their autumns in Carhartt jackets and mud-spattered ATVs. The term is a genius act of marketing, meant to bring these deadly weapons into the mainstream and keep them there. It’s also disingenuous hokum that exists to cloud debate, like calling a used car “pre-owned.””

How to speak without bias, according to the ‘Bias-Free Language Guide’

How does the language we choose affect the way things are perceived? When is it necessary for us to reevaluate the words and phrases we find acceptable as a society? What do the changes mentioned here actually accomplish?

Why would you want to change the word “rich” to the phrase, “people of means”? Does the shift in language more accurately describe a particular situation or reality? Does it simply shift words around without actually adding or accomplishing anything? Does the word “rich” have a negative connotation that you want to avoid?

This video would be funny if it were meant as a joke but this was a serious attempt at discussing the use of language. Looking at it in a TOK context is instructive and gives us a lot to consider.

“After attracting attention from conservative blogs last week, the University of New Hampshire has taken down its ‘Bias-Free Language Guide’ from its website.”


“Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled ‘torture’ with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand ‘mass surveillance’ as ‘bulk collection’ in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.”

Nothing friendly about it: Orwell’s Ministry of Peace would envy the US military’s use of newspeak

“Should we allow generals and politicians to hide behind phrases such as ‘friendly fire’?”

“As revelations of deaths of coalition troops caused by allies surface in Iraq and Afghanistan, an issue for editors is whether the phrase “friendly fire” should have quote marks around it.

“It is a military term, designed to shield the horrors of death and prevent animosity towards a war mission, argues one camp; so why should we be the agents of the phrase’s recognition? It is as if we accept its premise – that it is just one of those things that happens in war, and we should just, you know, get over it.”

20 Examples of Great Euphemisms

1. If you are offered a career change or an early retirement opportunity, a career or employee transition, or you are being involuntarily separated, or if personnel is being realigned or there is a surplus reduction in personnel, or the staff is being re-engineered or right sized, or if there is a workforce imbalance correction then: You’re fired!

RSA Animate – Language as a Window into Human Nature

Why do we indirect language and innuendo?
What does the language we use tell us about our social relationships?
How does the language we use reflect ideas of personal and shared knowledge?

In this new RSA Animate, renowned experimental psychologist Steven Pinker shows us how the mind turns the finite building blocks of language into infinite meanings.