To Doublespeak in Plain English - A Clarification Essay

To Doublespeak in Plain English - Clarification Essay

I have heard it be used before; I had sometimes made use of it myself, never did I know the correct meaning or the actual name it possessed: doublespeak. It is the art of taking away the actual meaning of an action, consequence or passage (Lutz, 2010). I say art because as I will discuss how for it to be used deep thought has to be put into the correct usage. The way we say things sometimes for etiquette or to be “politically correct” as people say, is not considered double speak. It is when the usage of it makes bad look good or something ugly sound pretty. I agree with Lutz in that doublespeak is soon becoming a normal standard of the way we communicate.

There are many ways to describe doublespeak, according to William Lutz there are at least four types of doublespeak. They are labeled as Euphemism, jargon, gobbledygook or bureaucrats and finally inflated language (Haywood, 2009). Each one of these types of doublespeak is also used by their own type of people and some are used instead of labels and others just simply to confuse a person into agreeing. For instance, euphemism is used by the general public not to be confused with “politically correct” phrases such as African American people. These are used by some agencies both private and governmental to describe something unpleasant such as “voluntary severance” (Damron, 1998) which means either “fired or laid off the job” (Damron, 1998). In this case I would use this to tell my friends and family that I was laid off in hopes that the ones who do not know what I mean will agree simply to avoid themselves sounding ignorant.

The second type is jargon, now just about anyone uses jargon at work or to make fun of anything at home or with friends. According to Lutz jargon usage is okay as long as it is used within the group. Sort of like an inside joke, when it is told to an outsider it loses its comical potential. I used to work in a liquor store as a cashier and even all of us cashiers had our own special jargon pertaining to cashier duties. Jargon can easily be confused for slang; however the differences are in a way simple. Slang consists mainly of made up words or words that may be considered “unruly, unrefined, and illogical” (Caudle, Courtney, Guyton, Keller, & Kind, 1999). Slang for instance could be a shiner, if we were using the same description but in a form of a jargon we could use bilateral probital hematoma (Caudle, Courtney, Guyton, Keller, & Kind, 1999). In this case if you say the bilateral one to the general public, I am pretty sure they would look at you as if you were crazy, however if you mention a shiner, they would immediately know what you are talking about. Jargon is used constantly by repair men, doctors, lawyers and pretty much any type of professional out there. When my television broke down a repair man that came into my home told me that he repaired the primary circuitry off the power supply of the television. When in fact, on the receipt there was a charge for two things, labor of $299 and a fuse for $2.00. I don’t think I would have been too happy to hear that I paid over 300 dollars for him to replace my fuse but the way he explained it to me sounded complicated and important.

The third type of doublespeak is gobbledygook or bureaucratese, to me the primary objective of this type is to sound so complicated that somewhere along the line you stopped listening and making sense of anything that you have no other choice but to agree and move on. In Latin America there existed a movie actor whose character name was Cantinflas, this particular Mexican actor made a living off this type of doublespeak specifically. When asked a simple question of would you like bread he would go into this detailed description as to why he should say yes that by the end of his 30 second speech the person who had asked him had no clue what he had said as a response. In the case it technically means to pile on words or to drown your audience with words; the bigger and more complicated the sentences and words become the better. This is somewhat of an art to be able to communicate this way on command, politicians have been using this technique for years now but most of the time they practice suggested responses so that they may be able to appear as if they are really meaning what they are saying. I sometimes wonder if even they know what they are talking about.

The final type of doublespeak is inflated language which is mainly utilized to exaggerate something normal. To make it appear blown out of proportion. In the television industry saying “3D ready” and “3D TV” are two completely different things. One means that it will be able to broadcast in 3D but you will need to purchase additional equipment, on the other hand 3D TV means that out of the box you will be able to use the 3D capabilities. I mean there is a reason why it will be at least $500 dollars more. Calling a secretary an administrative assistant is making that person feel more important about their job than it really is. This particular type of doublespeak is mainly used to sell a product or make your job title seem more important.

Whatever the doublespeak types are used in our society must be careful when using them as we are slowly going away from real communication. Sales people no longer tell you things how they are; they overwhelm your mind with terminology that most of the time is irrelevant just to make a sale. Politicians hide behind their fancy words and long circle non-sense sentences to make you believe they are smart and there’s no way they can be wrong. I mean I used to think that I was really dumb and that I was not able to understand what they were saying when they were giving their speeches. I am pretty sure that sometimes it is still me but sometimes I just get lost in what they are saying. If we don’t change pretty soon nobody will understand them and we will be ruled more by dictatorships than actual democrats or republicans.


Caudle, P, Courtney, K, Guyton, H, Keller, M, & Kind, C. (1999). Jargon. Retrieved from

Damron, M. (1998). Doublespeak examples. Retrieved from

Haywood, N. (2009). What you don't know is still reality!. Retrieved from't%20Know%20is%20Still%20Reality!

Lutz, W. (2010). The world of doublespeak. In K. Henry (Ed.), The bedford reader (10th, pp. 418-419). New York: Bedford/St. Martin's.