Word Wednesday – Election 42 Edition

Courtesy of Elections Canada

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or aren’t Canadian), you will have heard that a general election has been called for October 19th 2015. The election period is an unusually long 12 weeks (most are considerably shorter) and I’m already sick of the rhetoric. It’s like the old joke – how can you tell when a politician is lying? His (or her) lips are moving. I will vote come election day, because I was raised to believe that they who do not vote have no right to complain about the government.  Since I happen to quite enjoy complaining about the government, I have to vote. I’m fully prepared to pay more attention to the election – once the summer is over. I have a limited attention span for political doublespeak and it’s definitely not 12 weeks long!

I’ve worked the last few elections as a poll clerk. I haven’t decided if I want to work this one. For one thing, it’s the day after a big conference I’m really looking forward to attending. For another it’s a really long day and if you don’t have a good partner, it can really suck. The pay is decent though, and it is fun to be a part of the democratic process.

Courtesy of Elections Canada
Courtesy of Elections Canada

That said, you’d have to have been under a rock to not have heard something about the first leader’s debate. I chose not to watch it on television or stream it, but instead kept track of who was saying what about whom via Twitter. I noticed, that as politicians are wont to do, there was a lot of prevarication going on. Which gave me the idea for today’s Word Wednesday post. So some good came out of it at least.

Some of the politically savvy readers may know that as a matter of parliamentary procedure, one member cannot call another a straight out liar in the House of Commons. It has consistently been ruled as “Unparliamentary language” and there’s a partial list of all the words deemed unacceptable here. I’m not sure what the rule on thesaurus use is, because I would like to point out that almost every member is guilty of prevarication on occasion.


Prevarication (pre·var′i·ca′tion ) noun

1) a false or deliberate misstatement; a lie

2) the act of deviating from the truth

Maybe calling someone a liar would be better if we used a fancier word? Don’t accuse your opponent of lying – say they’re prevaricating. By the time they look up the meaning, you’ll be long gone. At least the first time.

Prevarication has a pretty interesting etymology. it comes from the Latin word praevaricatus, past participle of praevaricari, meaning to act in collusion – or literally to straddle.  The meaning comes from the second half of the word, which has its roots in the word  varus, meaning bowlegged.

So the next time you think a politician is straddling the truth, don’t accuse them of lying – accuse them of prevarication instead. You’ll say the same thing, but it sounds better.


By koalateagirl

Jenn Annis is a writer, editor, historian, special needs advocate, and tireless defender of the Oxford comma. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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