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They're out there doing exactly the same tour, and I think that that's important though, because I get a sense of audience when I talk to interviewers, and you talk to a variety of people. You see how your writing is perceived. A writer never really knows what the audience sees in the text, so every time I went in, I would be asked something about the book that I hadn't even thought about, or something that I didn't think was significant or important or particularly interesting, I had just put in there for whatever reason, they thought was the most fascinating thing and zeroed in on it.
LAMB:What's the most often asked question? It is probably the one question I've been asked most often, because people simply can't believe that that happens. LAMB:How can it happen? LUTZ: Because sugar-free simply means they haven't added table sugar or cane sugar to it. They can add monose? LAMB:So you know when you eat something that's sugar-free, it has sugar in it? LUTZ: Oh yes, and by the way, I found out in a radio interview, when they had people in the audience calling in, a man called in and said, "Do you mean that there is sugar in there?
Sugar-free isn't. It was absolutely amazing. But the I've been asked endless questions on that chapter. LAMB:Is there a particularly unusual question that you were asked on one of those call-in shows?
LUTZ: Usually on the call-in shows people call in to give me their examples of double-speak, which is I always like because I get to write things down. But, the most unusual question, I think I was asked, was I'm trying to think of how he put it, he wanted to know how many examples of double-speak, to that effect, if there was an account.
He wanted to know if I had counted it, and, you know I'd never even thought of that, and I have no idea of how many examples I have, because I, all of the examples that I I have in a computer data base, so I can call them up quickly and search very quickly. I have no idea how many I have in there. I do know I have a lot. LAMB:Any part of the country that was more interested than others? It was interesting. When Harper and Row went to market the book, there was very little interest in it by West Coast distributors.
There was a minimal interest in it. I think they took copies simply because the first print run was so large, they figured you can't really ignore a book like that George Carlin uses a lot of the double-speak in LAMB:Is there anything to the, the I think people in Washington, D.
They live in a language environment that is probably more intense than other sections of the country, and they're more aware of it, so I think the book struck a responsive cord for that reason.
I find that people, a couple people that I've talked to, the first thing they did when they got the book, will pick it up and they will look, to see if there is an index of double-speak terms, to see if their favorite term is in there.
That's the first thing they want to know, and then they'll say, "Well, you didn't include" It's a personal reaction. LAMB:You, you seem like you self-consciously pointed out in the, in the early part of this book, that there are no footnotes. Is that because you're an academician and you always had footnotes? LUTZ: Yes, yes. LAMB:In all the other books? LUTZ: I write footnotes a lot, and I think I wanted to reach a, a wide audience, and I had a choice, either I could, even documenting it, by the way, putting the footnotes in the back and end notes, anybody reading a text that sees all these little numbers, all the way through it, they just don't, I think that it, it scares them off and, and it changes the whole tone of the work.
So I wanted to say, "All of these examples are real, I can document all of them, but I'm not going to include the documentation here. LAMB:It's only got pages, small book. LUTZ: I think it's long, actually, for the material. It's pretty dense material, and the challenge in the book was to make it readable. I didn't want it to be just a listing of terms.
I wanted to show that there is a coherence to this first of all, and secondly, that this can be fun and enjoyable to read at the same time that it's educational. I don't see anything wrong with laughing and learning at the same time, and that's the kind of book that I wanted to write. LAMB:What are the other books that you've done, you don't have to go through every one of them, but what, in, in general, what are your other LUTZ: Well, at the same time that I published that, I published a collection of essays on double speak, by the National Council of Teachers of English, in which I asked a, a group of scholars to each contribute an essay, on an aspect of double-speak, so I edited those and published that book.
I'm probably one of the few people who has ever read the dictionary, from cover to cover twice, and, and I've, and I've edited that Thesaurus, and then, a variety of textbooks on rhetoric and on writing, and a book on revolution and revolutionary theory.
LAMB:What, what did you learn when you read that dictionary from cover to cover? I learned a lot of archaic words, a lot of archaic definitions, but, you know the dictionary is fascinating to read.
You can pick it up and flip it open and start reading, a good dictionary. Too many of the desk dictionaries are so edited down that there is no life to the language or life to words. If you get a, a good desk dictionary that, that gets into the backgrounds of the words and, and the words in context, words are fascinating and fun and language comes alive on the page.
And in writing the thesaurus, you get into the, the shades of meaning, the nuances, and, and the power of words, and the images that they can, they can create in your mind. LAMB:What are the best dictionaries?
LUTZ: Well, there's, the unabridged is, is the dictionary you always want of reference. LAMB:What, what does that mean, unabridged? LUTZ: Unabridged means absolutely everything is in there. They have edited out nothing, every definition, every meaning of the word, every example, which is why the unabridged is about that thick. All the dictionaries that we deal with are abridged, which means that they take out a lot of the specialized words and, and try to boil down to a core of words that are every day usage, and then they'll cut back even the meanings of the words.
Even in a Thesaurus a word like fix, a verb fix, can have up to 28 different meanings, but you normally don't list all 28, you, you maybe pick 14 or 12 of common usage, so, … LAMB:What's the difference between a dictionary and a Thesaurus? LUTZ: A dictionary gives you the meanings of the words, all the meanings and a strict definition for each one. A Thesaurus gives you synonyms for the words, so if you want to look up, the adjective busy, you want synonyms for that word, words that say the same thing, but not quite, shades of meaning.
One of the phrases I gave was in conference. LAMB:I just had an experience a couple weeks ago where somebody saw one of these shows and criticized me for using a word incorrectly, and I think the word was parochial, and I was referring to something that was, you know, special for a small group, parochial, and she said that's, you're just not using it, the word is provincial, so I trotted off to my dictionary, and found out that I was right, and so was she.
LAMB:So how do you, how, who writes these things and, I mean, who writes the dictionary in the first place? LUTZ: Lexicographers write it. If you go to Cleveland, Ohio, you will find in a building downtown, that there is a floor that Simon and Schuster has for their dictionary staff, and there's a group of people who sit around and they read. They read magazines, newspapers and they look for words, and new meanings of words, and these are pulled out and entered into the computer, and that's, that's what you, you see LUTZ: They're working on an unabridged.
The unabridged, I'm not sure when the next date is coming out. They have a huge collection of new meanings and new words and whenever they pick those out, they have to take the sentence in which it was used, what's called the citation, so that the meaning is perfectly clear in that sentence for that shade of meaning.
One, one of the things that I did in my book, I learned from them. All of my examples of double-speak are not only real, but I have the original context in which the phrase occurred or I won't use it, so I have file drawers filled with clippings and memos and letters that have been sent to me, in which the word is used in context so that I can see that the example of double-speak is real, it's serious and how it is used, and that's the only way that I will accept an example.
LAMB:I'll get off this dictionary in a second, but this is interesting. How many people are involved in, in producing the "Webster's Unabridged Dictionary"? LUTZ: Oh gosh, there's a lot of people. This is a big undertaking. You'll have,-- I met, the senior editorial staff that I met consisted of eight people. These are the senior editors, and below them will be all kinds of other editors and, and citation checkers and any number of people. You're talking a lot of people to do this.
LUTZ: Well, it will sell over, you know a period of the life of the book, will be 20, 30, 40 years and then periodically updating it as they go along, but it is labor intensive. Computers have really helped. They used to keep all these citations on index cards, by the way, in boxes. Now of course, they can keep it on a computer data base and pull things together.
Those are probably the three best dictionaries. Oh, then there's the Webster's Seventh, Collegiate Dictionary. The seventh edition?
LUTZ: The seventh edition. Now they're up to the ninth edition or something. That's Webster's, whatever number they use. LUTZ: Well, there's the "Oxford English Dictionary", which is the ultimate dictionary in the world, that's just a joy and a delight to read. It's, it traces the entire history of a word, from it's first occurrence in English all the way through, giving you the dates, the source and the citation.
You can look up a word and find it, it's entire history. If you go to the OED, as it's called, you can look up the word nun and nunnery, and you will understand why, when Hamlet turns to Ophelia? If you go the OED and look up the meaning for nunnery at the time, of Hamlet when the play was written, you will find out that it meant, brothel. Who, I mean, do you want this to change anything, this specific book, and have you seen any evidence that, you know, besides the journalists and the call-in shows and all that kind of stuff, that somebody is taking this book and using it to change things?
LUTZ: Boy, what a great question to ask. I just got a clipping, a newspaper clipping,, in which there is a letter to the editor quoting my book, to support the argument that the person is making about deceptive language, so as my mother said when she sent me this clipping, she ran across it and she said, "Somebody bought your book and read it, it seems.
You know, we talk about the consumer movement where you have to be aware of the product that you buy when you go and purchase something, you have to be aware of the language that's used in our society. You are just as much, as much a consumer of language as you are a consumer of goods, and so you have to be a critical consumer of language, just as you're a critical shopper. And, if you run across language that's defective, take it back, just like you take back the defective toaster, and say, "I want an exchange on this one, give me language that works, give me clear language".
LAMB:In your acknowledgments, something popped out of the page, "I would like to thank the gracious women of the Four Arts Club of Elkhart, Indiana, who listened to an early version of chapter two and laughed at all the right places.
LAMB:Tell us more. LUTZ: I had been interviewed on the "Today Show", and a woman called me up from Elkhart, Indiana, and said that they had this club and they would love to have me come and talk, and I said I'm really too busy, but they were, so nice I finally gave in, and, and went and had an absolutely wonderful time.
It's a very large group of women who are dedicated to the arts. They have their own arts center and they work very hard at supporting the arts and do a very, very good job of it. And I was their luncheon speaker.
And I was in the midst of writing this book and I had no idea of, of my audience, who was reading this and would be responding to this, and that's very difficult, so I took along chapter two and I read a chunk of chapter two as my talk, and I apologized. I said, "I should probably give you a prepared talk of a particular kind, but I would like to read this.
But they were so wonderful in, in telling me what they thought of what I had just read from this manuscript, what they liked about it, what they didn't like about it. So, I was really gracious to them. LAMB:Here's what chapter two is all about, "therapeutic misadventures, the economically non-affluent and deep-chilled chickens, the double-speak of everyday life, everyday living. Excuse me, what, what is a therapeutic misadventure?
State Department replaced the word "killing" in their annual reports with the phrase "unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of life," to steer clear of the uncomfortable situation of government-sanctioned killings in countries supported by the U.
The second type is jargon, which is the language used by a certain occupation, such as doctors or lawyers, or by a group of people who share the same hobby. According to Lutz, jargon has its rightful uses, allowing members of a group to speak more effectively. An example would be the term "involuntary conversion" of property, which is a legal term used to explain the loss or destruction of property by theft, accident, or condemnation, used between a lawyer and tax accountant.
But when people use unfamiliar words to speak to people outside of the group, it becomes jargon. Lutz argues that doublespeak alters our perception of reality. He defines it as a language that avoids responsibility. With this informative tone, Lutz drwas upon examples form the past and historical quotes such as his citation of George Orwell in
LAMB:How long has the government been using doublespeak? A writer never really knows what the audience sees in the text, so every time I went in, I would be asked something about the book that I hadn't even thought about, or something that I didn't think was significant or important or particularly interesting, I had just put in there for whatever reason, they thought was the most fascinating thing and zeroed in on it.