Essay: Journalese: a Ground-Breaking Study

Unbeknown to an unsuspecting public, Boy George's drug troubles touched off a severe crisis in the journalese-speaking community. How should reporters and pundits, all fluent in journalese as well as English, refer to the suddenly woozy singer? Naturally enough, conventions of the language demanded a hyphenated modifier. "Much-troubled" might have been acceptable, but that adjective is reserved, as are "oil-rich" and "war-torn," for stories about the Middle East. One tabloid, apparently eager to dismiss the celebrity as a wanton hussy, called him "gender-confused pop star Boy George." This was a clear violation of journalese's "most-cherished tenet": while doing in the rich...

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