ozarque (ozarque) wrote,
ozarque
ozarque

This journal has been placed in memorial status. New entries cannot be posted to it.

Linguistics; political language; Frank Luntz...

Everybody seems to be familiar with George Lakoff's "magic words and phrases and metaphors" techniques, but I don't see/hear/read much about Frank Luntz, his counterpart on the right. I don't know whether that's because there's a genuine information gap about Luntz, or because of lack of interest, or if it's something else entirely; in any case, it seemed to me that it would be a good idea to do a post about him here.

It was Frank Luntz who came up with the term "death tax" to replace "inheritance tax" and "estate tax." It was Frank Luntz who came up with the vocabulary and terminology for promoting the war in Iraq. It's Frank Luntz who preaches -- nonstop -- that the current health care legislation must always be referred to as a "government takeover" and/or as "a bailout for the insurance industry." It was Frank Luntz who said to Sean Hannity, on Fox News: "If you call it a public option, the American people are split. If you call it the government option, the public is overwhelmingly against it."

A good place to start getting information about Luntz is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz , where you'll find a batch of links to other Luntziana, including his 28-page pdf memo to Republicans on how to use language to stop the healthcare bill. And here's a typical sample from the section of that memo titled "The 10 Rules For Stopping The 'Washington Takeover' Of Healthcare":

"Acknowledge the 'crisis' or suffer the consequences. If you say there is no healthcare crisis, you give your listener permission to ignore everything else you say. It is a credibility killer for most Americans. A better approach is to define the crisis in your terms. 'If you're one of the millions who can't afford healthcare, it is a crisis.' Better yet, 'If some bureaucrat puts himself between you and your doctor, denying you exactly what you need, that's a crisis.' And the best: 'If you have to wait weeks for tests and months for treatment, that's a healthcare crisis.'"

[Note: If I were Luntz, I'd be telling people to start each of those three example sentences with "when" instead of with "if," since "when" presupposes what follows and "if" doesn't. Luntz is NLP-trained, by the way; he should know all about presuppositions.]

Over to you...
Tags: linguistics; political language
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  • Saturday...

    We're moved, finally. It almost destroyed us both, but we've made it to the light at the end of the tunnel stage. Sorry for the lengthy silence.…

  • Saturday...

    Many thanks for all the good wishes!

  • Friday... News!

    Much news here.... We have sold our property and rented an apartment in Springdale. Now, all that remains is to get rid of thirty years of clutter!