Old Money Preference: Plain Speaking

The war against euphemism and cliché matters not because we can guarantee that eliminating them will help us speak nothing but the truth but, rather, because eliminating them from our language is an act of courage that helps us get just a little closer to the truth. Clear speech takes courage. Every time we tell the truth about a subject that attracts a lot of lies, we advance the sanity of the nation. Plain speech matters because when we speak clearly we are more likely to speak truth than when we retreat into slogan and euphemism; avoiding euphemism takes courage because it almost always points plainly to responsibility. To say ‘torture’ instead of ‘enhanced interrogation’ is hard, because it means that someone we placed in power was a torturer. That’s a hard truth and a brutal responsibility to accept. But it’s so.

From a New Yorker magazine article by Adam Gopnik

14 thoughts on “Old Money Preference: Plain Speaking

  1. And if we accept the truth and responsibility of our decisions, we may have to defend them. Plain speaking often reveals what we believe. And some of us feel uncomfortable about that, about taking a position and defending it. Just a thought.

    1. Good point, Phillippa. If we can articulate our position in simple terms, and be comfortable with it, odds are we’ve got a position that warrants consideration, if not merit. Thanks. – BGT

  2. Let’s not forget crazy Don King speech. That’s just as bad as euphemisms, maybe worse. Keep it simple, direct, and your vocabulary not excessively showy.

  3. I remember this article. A man’s son was shot to death and he laid the blame squarely at the feet of the NRA and the craven politicians who cave in to them. Plain speaking, indeed. My guess is that the The New Yorker has as high a percentage of old money readers as any magazine in circulation today.

  4. But isn’t there still room for non-plain speaking such as a William F. Buckley? Cliches, no. But elegant literate speech, yes.

  5. There’s always a place for beautiful speech as long as it isn’t used to hide the truth..
    The Orwellian doublespeak used to diliberately hide from the truth is scary. “Enhanced interrogation “; that is frightening.

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