'Chillax' on 'negative good' words

IT'S more broken English than plain English, as the worst words of 2011 were nominated this week.

The Plain English Foundation released its annual list of the worst doublespeak of the year in its ongoing fight to get behind the smokescreen of words thrown up by governments and big corporations to bamboozle us.

And the winner is the use of the phrase "fugitive emissions" by chemical company Orica to describe a gas leak at its plant in Newcastle.

Another favourite was "negative good", used by a dental industry spokesman to describe the damaging effects of teeth whitening.

Buzz word "chillax", apparently a combination of the words chill and relax, also gets an honourable mention.

Foundation director Neil James said the gobbledegook was often used by governments and corporations to paper over something so the public did not realise there was anything to worry about.

"Last year because it was an election year we had a lot of political speak on the list," he said.

"This year the surprising thing was the corporate world featured a lot more."

Dr James said the sheer amount of information bombarding us in our daily lives meant it was easy to miss how the political and corporate worlds were manipulating language.

"If we let them get away with it, they will keep on doing it," he said.

Dr James said even he was taken aback when a chicken producer advertised its chooks as "free to roam" when there were up to 20 birds a square metre in its barns.

"I had to check that one three times," he said.

"That's just absolute nonsense."

Also included in the list was Nicole Kidman's description of the surrogate mother of her child as a "gestational carrier".

And Queensland got a mention too, with the media describing the floods of summer as an "inland tsunami".

In business terms "two-speed economy" also became popular.

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