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A "controversial" word Options
oxfordpeter
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 10:30:58 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 10/16/2018
Posts: 6
Neurons: 40
So, I am about to deliver a bollocking to a couple of writers I edit regularly for their excessive reliance of the word "controversial."

I cannot express enough how much I detest this word, or at least the way in which it is so liberally, lazily and inaccurately (in my correct opinion) used to refer to something *shocking*. Writers do this because they do not want to seem as though they are expressing an editorial view and are thereby crassly ducking potential incoming flak. If you want to indicate something is egregious but don't want to seem like you are taking a position, you just need to show not tell.

Now, I know I am right; this is not in dispute, but what I would like is some moral support from people who agree with me and can offer other explanations for why they believe this word is so often wrongly deployed.

If you disagree with this, you are wrong and you do not need to respond. Thank you for your understanding.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 10:45:34 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,385
Neurons: 179,169
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
This is a forum which is (as noted in the "English Forums" menu) for "General discussion about the English language: definitions, usage, etymology, etc".

If you don't want discussion - don't post here.

Your opinion is your opinion, not fact.
I'm not saying that you are wrong - I can't be bothered checking your facts.
You check them.
If you are totally definitely right, you will find facts to show it.
If not, then you're wrong.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
oxfordpeter
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 10:59:27 AM
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Well, I do want discussion. About how to make the argument for how the word should best be used. That seems pretty legitimate.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 11:38:40 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
But you said that you only want people to say how right you are, nothing else.
That's not a discussion - it's a fan club.

EDITED
to add:

The word should be used to mean what its definition says - controversial - 'causing or inciting controversy or argument', 'debatable', 'under discussion', 'open to question'.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 11:50:15 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
In general (not just in the use of this word) I do feel that many writers 'duck and weave' using deliberately vague words so that their opinions are not clear, or so that their opinions appear to be facts.

Media in general (writers, editors and whoever else) obviously TRY to make any story 'controversial' (write it in such a way that it provokes disagreement or discussion).
That's what sells newspapers - blood, controversy, sex, death and celebrities.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 3:04:20 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2009
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It's kinda disputable to say here "in my correct opinion" ;-)
Why don't you use polemic?


In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Elvandil
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 3:51:10 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 311
Neurons: 127,537
Location: East Montpelier, Vermont, United States
oxfordpeter wrote:
So, I am about to deliver a bollocking to a couple of writers I edit regularly for their excessive reliance of the word "controversial."

I cannot express enough how much I detest this word, or at least the way in which it is so liberally, lazily and inaccurately (in my correct opinion) used to refer to something *shocking*. Writers do this because they do not want to seem as though they are expressing an editorial view and are thereby crassly ducking potential incoming flak. If you want to indicate something is egregious but don't want to seem like you are taking a position, you just need to show not tell.

Now, I know I am right; this is not in dispute, but what I would like is some moral support from people who agree with me and can offer other explanations for why they believe this word is so often wrongly deployed.

If you disagree with this, you are wrong and you do not need to respond. Thank you for your understanding.


It seems a lot of people with ADD simply cannot focus on the question.

Yes, the word is much overused. Sometimes I wonder if what is called "controversial" could have more than a single person on one of the sides.
"The controversial, daily rising of the Sun...."

And "alleged". Somehow that simple word makes people bullet-proof, they seem to think. There are many other words that would indicate that facts in a matter were not known with certainty.

And is there any newsperson anywhere that knows that "criterion" is the singular?

Good luck. But use the "nudge" (a new form of social control that works well with children and my cat) and suggest alternatives. I'm not suggesting that you treat people like animals. In most cases, you would need to use simpler and more explicit techniques on humans than you would use on the higher animals like dogs and cats.







(議思不の界世) pןɹoʍ ǝɥʇ ɟo sɹǝpuoʍ ǝɥʇ ɟo ǝuo sı ǝpoɔıun
Elvandil
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 4:06:41 PM

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Joined: 12/5/2014
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Location: East Montpelier, Vermont, United States
Drag0nspeaker wrote:
1.) This is a forum which is (as noted in the "English Forums" menu) for "General discussion about the English language: definitions, usage, etymology, etc".

If you don't want discussion - don't post here.

Your opinion is your opinion, not fact.
I'm not saying that you are wrong - I can't be bothered checking your facts.
You check them.
If you are totally definitely right, you will find facts to show it.
If not, then you're wrong.

2.) That's what sells newspapers - blood, controversy, sex, death and celebrities.


Sorry, but opinions can very well be facts. They are also correct or incorrect (though many fall into the indeterminate area). Opinions are not the same as daydreams or fantasies. They are reasoned conclusions.

Just out of curiosity, what is a "newspaper"? I have heard the elders speak of them.







(議思不の界世) pןɹoʍ ǝɥʇ ɟo sɹǝpuoʍ ǝɥʇ ɟo ǝuo sı ǝpoɔıun
BobShilling
Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 4:28:35 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/1/2018
Posts: 545
Neurons: 3,704
Location: Beroun, Stredocesky, Czech Republic
Elvandil wrote:

Sorry, but opinions can very well be facts.

Opinions are not facts. They are attitudes, beliefs, convictions, evaluations, feelings, ideas, views etc.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, October 26, 2018 8:29:06 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,385
Neurons: 179,169
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Quote:
opinion n
1. judgment or belief not founded on certainty or proof

fact n
1. an event or thing known to have happened or existed
2. a truth verifiable from experience or observation
Collins English Dictionary

An opinion is not founded on any certainty.

oxfordpeter wrote:
lazily and inaccurately (in my correct opinion) used to refer to something *shocking*.
. . .
If you disagree with this, you are wrong. . .

The first part says it is an opinion (therefore, not certain).
The first part says it is correct (therefore, certain)
The second part also says it is certain.
It's a contradiction.

I happen to agree with oxfordpeter's opinion and have offered other explanations for why I believe this word is so often wrongly deployed. It's my opinion, which agrees with his.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
oxfordpeter
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 12:33:51 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 10/16/2018
Posts: 6
Neurons: 40
Thank you all for the feedback. The tone of my original post was intended quite tongue-in-cheek, but this is obviously lesson 1,344,002,476 of how that kind of thing doesn't come across online.
All the same, the responses have been very interesting to read.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 9:12:23 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,385
Neurons: 179,169
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Don't worry - it's happened to most of us . . .
Of course, as I'm perfect, it's always someone else's fault.
Whistle

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
coag
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 2:43:27 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/27/2010
Posts: 1,091
Neurons: 5,805
Hello oxfordpeter,

I understood right away that you wrote your original post half-jokingly. The post is funny to me.

You should've given one or two good examples of the abuse of "controversial". I think that would attract more people to discussion. It would've helped, also, if you've explained why you think you are right and the rest of the world is wrong, in these examples.

PS

In a cultural sense, I am curious if you are a native English speaker (you definitely seem as one to me) and if you were born and raised in the UK.

Where I was born and raised (former Yugoslavia), pretty much everyone would understand that you joked in your original post. That kind of informal talk is not unusual there. But I've had impression that English speakers are much nicer than us-- I've thought that kind of talk is not acceptable in England. When I read your original post, I thought this guy is maybe from the Balkans (no offense).
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2018 3:48:15 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,385
Neurons: 179,169
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi - well, since no-one else is commenting on "controversial" right now, I'll reply here, as coag's post made me think.

The name "oxfordpeter" and the style of writing (especially the word 'bollocking') definitely made me act as if 'Peter' were English.

The attitude "I'm right and anyone who disagrees is WRONG" is perfectly OK in England and the rest of Britain generally - but only ironically, as a joke, and only, really, in situations in which everyone is familiar with the speaker and knows that they are mocking themselves slightly.

Perhaps also, I was a bit 'prickly' as I had been reading some posts in which the writers were perfectly serious in their posts saying (in slightly veiled terms)
"Trump is totally evil and is the Devil in disguise and anyone who says any slightest thing good about him is WRONG!"
or
"Trump is perfect and is God in disguise and anyone who says the slightest thing bad about him is WRONG!"
"All Ukrainians are totally evil!"
"All Russians are totally evil!"


There is a convention, specific I think to this forum, that (as there is no 'tongue-in-cheek' emoticon) we often use the 'whistling' one - Whistle - to signify "Just kidding!" in cases in which we think our joke may be misunderstood (You're right, sometimes these things don't quite work online where facial expression and body-language clues are missing).

You probably can't find them now, even with the search facility, but some of the misunderstandings between Romany and myself in my early days on this forum are classic - and we're both 'very English'.




Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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