Nautilus

Why Campaigns to Change Language Often Backfire

Opponents of the phrase “car accident” argue that language is intertwined with accountability.Photograph by Alan Poulson Photography / Shutterstock

In the first decades of the 20th century, people around the world began succumbing to an entirely new cause of mortality. These new deaths, due to the dangers of the automobile, soon became accepted as a lamentable but normal part of modern life. A hundred years later, with 1.25 million people worldwide (about 30,000 in the U.S.) being killed every year in road crashes, there’s now an effort to reject the perception that these deaths are normal or acceptable.

As in the , a growing number of safety advocates, government officials, and journalists are moving away from the phrase “car accident” on the grounds that it by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The vast majority of such incidents are caused by drivers who make mistakes, take risks, or drive while distracted or impaired. This linguistic shift is propelled by passionate advocates like Jeff Larason, who runs a  and Twitter account called Drop the “A” Word, and Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who explained at a conference on driver safety why his agency shuns that particular word: “When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like God made it happen.”

Вы читаете отрывок, зарегистрируйтесь, чтобы читать полное издание.

Другое от: Nautilus

Nautilus5 мин. чтенияChemistry
How Maxwell’s Demon Continues to Startle Scientists
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog. The universe bets on disorder. Imagine, for example, dropping a thimbleful of red dye into a swimming pool. All of those dye molecules are going to slowly spread throughout the water
Nautilus12 мин. чтенияBiology
The Vast Viral World: What We Know (and Don’t Know): Exploring the minuscule and mysterious world of viruses.
Slightly ovoid in shape and somewhat blurred at the edges, the black splotches were scattered across a mottled gray background, looking much like a postmodern painting. At a meeting of the Medical Society of Berlin in 1938, Helmut Ruska, a German phy
Nautilus8 мин. чтенияChemistry
A Wrinkle in Nature Could Lead to Alien Life: There may be more than one way to tune a universe for life.
I grew up in a small village in a very rural part of England. It was a landscape capped with the huge skies of a low-lying coastal zone. Gently rolling fields, long hedgerows, and a lot of farms. Some of the people running those farms came from so ma