Thursday, January 9, 2014

Words Mean Things...

And sometimes, as #1 Blogdaughter points out in the story she sent in, words mean exactly the opposite of what the news thinks they mean...

Bulldozer driver killed by unexploded WWII device, police say
A bulldozer driver was killed and 13 others were injured in a western German town Friday after a World War II bomb or mine exploded, police said.

The explosion happened in an industrial area of Euskirchen, near Bonn, at a property used by a construction firm to sort and dispose of rubble. It wasn't immediately clear whether the explosives had long been buried in the ground or had inadvertently been brought to the site in a delivery of demolition waste.
If the driver was killed when the bomb exploded, then it certainly isn't "unexploded", is it? I think the word they meant to use was "undiscovered" or perhaps "undetonated." However, owing to the fact that it did, most certainly, explode, we can't really call it "unexploded," can we?

I mean, I know it's unfashionable in this day and age of feelings to worry about silly old outdated concepts like *meaning*, but words do actually mean things. When we ignore those meanings and twist them to our own ends, communication becomes all but impossible.

Or it could just be someone with cranio-rectal inversion...

That is all.


Douglas2 said...

I was contemplating a similar inversion yesterday with another word that has a pretty clear literal meaning, but in combination with another has become a term of art in a particular field.
A UXO or UXB is exactly what the guy found, to his detriment. His machine disturbed a UXB, and it detonated.

It is a UXB because it is a bomb dropped in WWII that the people dropping it really intended to have explode at the time, but it was a dud. The troubles with duds are that:

a: often a little percussive maintenance will make them work fine again, even 70 years later.
b: often the deteriorated explosives aren't as stable as they were intended to be before their "use by" date.
c: heavy objects falling from the sky often bury themselves, and so can be forgotten and unnoticed for decades.

After living in places that were under bombardment in WWII, this "term of art" is clear to me from reading it all the time in local news, and I don't see any contradiction in saying that an "unexploded bomb" has now exploded. "Unexploded bomb" is now very much a name of a thing (X), that thing (X) being duds that lurk as a hazard for people working on construction, road, and utility projects. That thing (X) sometimes explodes when disturbed, in which case I don't see any illogic in saying that an (X) has exploded.

skidmark said...

What he said.

Rather disappointed that you were not aware of the terminology for 'splodey things left over from when they were supposed to go KABOOM but didn't.

stay safe.

Ancient Woodsman said...

The error that got me was "bulldozer". Earlier accounts showed pictures of the machine and it most certainly wasn't a bulldozer. It was an excavator.

Of course from an industry where every rifle is an AK47, every handgun is a Glock, and every democrat is an angel, this shouldn't be surprising.