'Killing' for 'suicide'

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Thu Oct 18 16:15:38 UTC 2012

Not directly related, but the November/December 2012 issue of Archaeology has a letter to the editor from Viktoras Pranziskus Mockus about the proper use of "kill."

In "Burial Customs" (September/October 2012), archaeologist Phil Freeman is quoted as saying the only comparable finding to the Roman mass grave found in Macedonia is one dating to 1812 in Vilnius, Lithuania, which contained "corpses of French soldiers killed during Napoleon's retreat from Russia." The word "killed," implying violence, is unfair and inaccurate. In the article you previously published ("Digging Napoleon's Dead," September/October 2002), the deaths were attributed to epidemic disease, starvation, and the severe winter. The Lithuanians were not causally involved.

The response defends the use of "killed" as not necessarily implying violence as per Merriam-Webster's Collegiate.

Of course, that is true, but the context makes it sound as though there was violence involved.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

On Oct 18, 2012, at 3:47 AM, Damien Hall <damien.hall at NEWCASTLE.AC.UK> wrote:

> New to me in the _Metro_ (Newcastle, UK edition) this morning:
> 'A van driver shot a Canadian border guard in the neck before turning the gun on himself, police said yesterday. [The female police officer's condition was later] said to be stable. Police [...] were trying to discover the motive for Tuesday's killing.'
> Only the gunman has died here, so 'killing' must refer either to his suicide or to the presumable attempted murder of the border guard.  Have others seen this use before?  Do you think it's genuine, or can it be attributed to rushed subbing (removal of the word 'attempted' before 'killing' - though it would have fit in the remaining space on the line - or something else)?

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