Weeknote 9: Euphemisms and poems

Extract from letter from Honda (text in blog)

I had an interesting letter from Honda this week about a safety recall. Not interesting because of the content but because of the style.

They are going to give me new airbags because the old ones are faulty. But they had a very long-winded way of saying it.

‘In the event of an impact where the airbag is deployed, the inflator part of the airbag may ignite, in such a manner, that it creates excessive internal pressure. As a result, the metal inflator casing may rupture causing metal fragments to be propelled through the airbag and into the vehicle compartment. This may result in serious injury to the vehicle occupants.’

I think it’s their way of avoiding the words: ‘Your airbag might explode.’

I don’t know if I was more offended by them not being straight with me, the knowledge that they’ve let me drive around in a dangerous car or the way they’ve used commas in that first sentence.

Anyway, it will go down on record as a fine example of a euphemism. And I came across another good one, too, this time (as if so often the case) in the context of business management. A local publisher is using the phrase ‘editorial reinvention’ to avoid saying ‘restructure’.

In other news

  • Ian McEwan has a new book out, and it’s speculative fiction – a genre that a recent interview suggests he knows little about. Social media commentators took him to task. As Antony Johnston pointed out, Mary Shelley did this 200 years ago.

Antony Johnston's tweet about Frankenstein (text in link)


  • Notre Dame burned; people grieved; some were unsympathetic about people grieving. And someone shared a poem.

Poets House tweet (text in link)

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