n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Don't accuse me of being anti-semantic. Some of my best friends are words : research article

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-5986



In this article the question is posed whether certain semantically `loaded' terms and phrases used during various wars fought since 1968 have undergone semantic shifts, and whether they can still be accommodated under certain figures of speech such as irony, hyperbole and euphemism, all with their inherent dichotomies. It is argued that all these terms can be accommodated under one superordinate, namely `doublespeak'. The article firstly addresses certain thematic, methodological and theoretical issues regarding the analysis of phrases, terms and speech acts that are quite well known in `war-speak'. The focus then falls on an article by Thomas Merton, `War and the crisis of language' (1968), and comments are made on the relevance of this article today.

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