Saturday, December 29, 2007

oh no! I've got the wrong head on!

Just another observation along the lines of my earlier post about the phrase "different class" and associated stuff - when did it become acceptable political-ese and journalist-ese to use the clumsy term "wrong-headed"? Deborah Orr of The Independent does it a lot, but she's by no means the only culprit. Here she is writing about cannabis:
Even now, I know a number of people who smoke dope with their teenage children, under the impression that a "French" approach to cannabis will work in the same way as a "French" approach to wine. I now believe this to be an extremely wrong-headed attitude.
And here about Sudoku:
Until now, this has been put down to gender differences in brain function. She herself, having laboured under the cultural pressures subtly placed on the few women who try to break into the tight little world of chess, has always considered this to be a wrong-headed and frankly illogical assumption.
Here's journalist and noted Scientologist-abuser John Sweeney writing about our legal system:
Information, in itself, about anything, is light. I want every reporter in the country to understand that the plan in our judicial system is to switch that light off. To understand just how wrong-headed this is, humour me.
Here's US presidential candidate and magic crotchless underwear devotee Mitt Romney on the Iraq war (incorporating an amusing slip regarding Barack Obama's name):
Actually, just look at what Osama - Barack Obama - said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. ... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded.
And here's Osama, I mean Obama's response:
Apparently, Mitt Romney can switch names just as casually as he switches positions, but what's wrongheaded is continuing a misguided war in Iraq that has left America less safe.
Note that the hyphen appears to be optional. My point, if you're still with me, is that the word these people are looking for, and are substituting "wrong-headed" for, is "wrong". I suspect that what's happening is that there's a slight reluctance to use as dogmatic and final-sounding a word as "wrong", and so "wrong-headed" has evolved as a slightly weaselly alternative. One which also hints at the bizarre notion that these people have a choice of heads when they get up in the morning, which, unless you happen to be Zaphod Beeblebrox, is unlikely to be the case.

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