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War on Terra Firma

Posted by Lewis on September 29, 2005

In Reply to: Not Catchphrases posted by Bob on September 29, 2005

: : : : I've been having this debate with a friend about what you would call word groupings that sound grandiose but upon further scrutiny are almost non-sensical such as: "Stand strong in the face of adversity", "cease the moment". A tangible action with a intangible foe. "War on Terror". Something which uses key words to evoke a familiar emotional reaction with something intangible.
: : : :
: : : : What is the linguistic term which would describe it? I think it would be a type of phrase i.e.: catchphrase. He thinks it should be something like superlative.

: : : : Any help you could offer would be greatly appriciated.

: : : This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but it makes me think of jingoism -- http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/5/messages/561.html

: : Almost non-sensical. Well, that would certainly include "cease the moment." The phrase is rather more often rendered "seize the moment," which means something. I have a short list of "almost non-sensical when analyzed" phrases, or more correctly "completely non-sensical." To avoid inflammatory language I'll only mention one, "The public has a right to know." This used to be uttered in an almost oracular fashion by a reporter for the L.A. Times who used to be on "Washington Week in Review." Since "to know" is a transitive verb, one has to ask, "The public has a right to know what?" SS

: The question is a bit confusing, since the three examples have little in common. "Stand strong in the face of adversity" is a bit pompous, but it's a reasonably clear elaboration on "be brave." "Seize the moment" is also clear, but not as mis-heard. "War on Terror" is a bit of sloganeering that doesn't stand up to close inspection, but that doesn't stop millions from saluting. It might be considered a catchphrase, but not the other two. "Superlative" just doesn't apply; consult a dictionary.

The expression "War on Terror" is completely wrong, because terror is an emotional response within the innocent citizens and Governments attacking foreign quasi-military targets, sending out warnings of probable NBC attacks and restricting civil liberties hardly soothes the nervous soul.

It is a shame that they did not revamp an old slogan "Tough on terrorists - tough on the causes of terrorism" but when you examine the record for beating crime, they perhaps did not want to draw attention to their inffectiveness.

...and they do not appear to be doing much about the causes either.

Fighting terrorism is a bit like being a goal-keeper; the counter-terrorists can play a brilliant game, but eventually (like Pieter Cech)they will let one through, even if it takes quite a few contests. it is hardly surprising that they are 'unsighted' from time to time.

only confidence and inner peace defeat terror.

the public have a right to know...

L