Military Doublespeak: How Jargon Turns Gore into Glory
For centuries before George Orwell coined the word "doublespeak" to convey the flavor of government-sponsored linguistic deception, soldiers have used language to mask the horror of war.
Military jargon has always specialized in turning gore into glory. Many modern conflicts have also focused on sports metaphors that, as many critics have noted, trivialize war. The Gulf War provided "superb examples of doublespeak that managed to turn carnage into something cold and drained of emotion," comments The Media and the Gulf War: A Case Study published by the Association for Media Literacy in Toronto." Many magazines and newspapers "translated" selected collections for their readers.
The following list can be used to start your own war jargon collection. Building and posting a class list is an excellent way to help young people tune in to news reports of any military conflict. Have students find examples of the use of jargon. Try rewriting stories without jargon to see what's really going on and how euphemisms on any topic can distort and mislead.
Adapted with permission from Media and the Gulf War: A Case Study by the Association for Media Literacy, Ontario, Canada