Doctors at a Philadelphia hospital described a patient's death as a "diagnostic misadventure of a high magnitude."
The 5,000 workers at a Chrysler AMC plant found out a new "career alternative enhancement program" meant their plant was closing and they were out of jobs.Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, referred to capital punishment as "our society's recognition of the sanctity of human life."
These are some examples of what the nation's English teachers Friday recognized as the year's worst doublespeak.
"We're corrupting what language is supposed to do, and that's communicate," said William Lutz, a Rutgers University professor who headed the public doublespeak committee of the National Council of Teachers of English, based in Urbana, Ill. "We cannot function without language."
First prize in the 1988 doublespeak awards went to U.S. military officials for their explanations of the July 3 downing of an Iranian airliner by the U.S. Vincennes in the Persian Gulf.
Lutz said both officials' reports and a news conference on the incident were filled with "the doublespeak of omission, distortion, contradiction and misdirection."
The report censored essential information and did not contain "something as basic and important as a map showing the course, over time, of the Vincennes, its sister ships, the Iranian airliner and the gunboats."
Even so, Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci told the public, "We chose not to withhold anything," Lutz said.
An anonymous Reagan administration official captured second place for denying that the administration had covered up Honduran military officials' involvement in drug crimes.
The spokesman said: "It wasn't that there was a cover-up. It's just that people knew certain questions shouldn't be asked."
Though nearly impossible to pick a favorite doublespeak, Lutz said the stockbroker's description of the October 1987 crash as a "fourth- quarter equity retreat" deserved recognition for "sheer chutzpah."