"collateral damage"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 6 01:14:09 UTC 2011

PBS asks in a promo for a forthcoming show:

"How much collateral damage in wartime is intentional?"

Noteworthy because "collateral damage" here means "civilian casualties
without qualification." (Actual "collateral damage" is, by definition,
unintentional - unless "intentional" is oddly broadened to include
"unavoidable"; moreover,  the phrase is used as though it were rhetorically
neutral - which, when it has borne this simplistic meaning in the past (as a
factitious "cynical Pentagon euphemism"), it was not. There was no "ironic'
inflection in the announcer's voice.

Cf. the somewhat comparable career of "ethnic cleansing," discussed here
some time back.


The program will reveal how a group of Bosnian women "changed the rules of
war forever."


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list