More Linguistic Misuse

Having just posted an article about the misuse of the word “sustainable,” I found this blog entry during my daily perusal of my Google alerts on the subject. I see that others have noticed the same problem with the proliferation of sustainable X. The blogger had discovered this slightly tongue-in-cheek, but deadly serious scolding, of the mindless use of sustainability in official talk in Europe.

Written Declaration on overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’

The European Parliament,
- having regard to the concept of ‘sustainable development’, which originated in the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development,
- having regard to the European Commission document entitled ‘Towards a global partnership for sustainable development’ (COM(2002)0082 final),
- having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the current parliamentary term has seen the overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’ and its combination with various other words to create expressions that frequently make no sense in the context,
B. whereas the word ‘sustainable’ is repeated in almost all policies and strategies, producing empty, meaningless phrases that may give rise to dispute,
C. whereas, with the emergence of such expressions, they are being transformed into incantations and cryptography, disguising the real meaning of the concepts we discuss,
D. whereas the overuse of the adjective ‘sustainable’ is itself not sustainable,

1. Calls on European institutions and agencies to use this term in a sensible and balanced way;
2. Calls on all institutions to use the term semantically correctly;
3. Proposes a temporary moratorium on the word ‘sustainable’;
4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission, the Council and the parliaments of the Member States.

Right on, matey.

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