Essay: Journalese for the Lay Reader

Journalese, the native tongue of newsgatherers and pundits, retains a faint similarity to English but is actually closer to Latin. Like Latin, it is primarily a written language, prized for its incantatory powers, and is best learned early, while the mind is still supple. Every cub reporter, for instance, knows that fires rage out of control, minor mischief is perpetrated by Vandals (never Visigoths, Franks or a single Vandal working alone) and key labor accords are hammered out by weary negotiators in marathon, round-the- clock bargaining sessions, thus narrowly averting threatened walkouts. The discipline required for a winter storm report is...

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