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ERIC Number: ED284302
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1987
Pages: 17
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Rhetoric of Nukespeak.
Schiappa, Edward
Nukespeak--euphemisms or jargon that serve to hide the horrific nature of nuclear weapons systems and nuclear war--uses the strategies of domestication and bureaucratization to represent itself to the public. Domestication employs everyday language to introduce nuclear concepts into public discourse in a non-threatening manner, as when President Reagan named the MX missile "The Peacekeeper." Bureaucratization insulates nuclear concepts from public inspection by using acronyms or sanitized jargon, such as the military definition of the neutron bomb as a "radiation enhancement warhead." If some aspect of nuclear war cannot be conveyed persuasively with friendly metaphors, then the next best option is to use technical terms or acronyms that only "experts" can really understand. Nukespeak, as a thoroughly rhetorical enterprise, warrants attention because of its role in shaping consciousness of speakers and hearers alike. Kenneth Burke has argued that terminologies direct attention by selecting some aspects of reality to focus on while deflecting others. The likely consequence of nukespeak is that its users will tend to understand nuclear weapons, strategy, and war as benign or beneficial rather than repulsive or horrifying, while its receivers (the public) will tend to accept a reality defined by "official others." The challenge for the rhetorical critic is to identify the "Third Persona" of texts--the audience excluded by the discourse of nukespeak. (References are appended.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A