Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oxymorons

It is interesting that Oxygen (Gk: I make sharp/sour) and Oxymoron (Gk: sharp+dull) have such an overlap. Oxygen was once thought to be an essential constituent of those sharp/sour-tasting acids found by chemists. Oxymorons (I don't like oxymora as a plural; don't know why) are (along with double entendres) essential components of our language. Oxymoron (itself an oxymoron) generation sometimes happens on purpose (e.g. "deafening silence") but the best are purely accidental. Good grief. Civil War. Military Intelligence. Airline food. Microsoft Works.
However, it worries me more than a little that these pearls of our language are tending to go unrecognised in the highly careful phrases that we are now subjected to.
Just for starters: "financial strategy", "fiscal prudence", "customer care", "job centre", "savings account", "politically correct", "the Prime Minister thinks...", "Olympics 2012 budget", "civil servant".
Any others will be gratefully received.

2 comments:

GC said...

''Same difference'' - a classic. Plus, it relates to The X Factor.

''Budget deficit'' - well you haven't been budgeting then have you!

I also like the news correspondents supposedly ''Science Editor'' or ''Economics Editor'' or whatever. They interview a real expert in the subject and then ignore them in the main interview with the anchor and just give their own opinion as if they are in the pub with their mates! They don't edit anything.

fiona said...

Microsoft Works. Hahaha!

I used to like "Aural Matters". But actually, if you're a musician, it does matter.