Journalese of the Day: Swaths of trading barbs

Reporters and editors obviously feel it’s the more the merrier when it comes to journalese. Reading the Boston Globe today, Aug. 12, 2016, and I find that “Trump, who has dismissed whole swaths of the population…” and a local story about seaport development noting that “Fan Pier occupies such an important swath of the waterfront.” And in an op-ed by Washington columnist Indira A.R. Lekhmanan: “As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade barbs over economic proposals…” Where would we be without journalese?A Google check gets 5,690,000 hits for “swath.” I doubt if as many as one percent mean the first definition of swath: “A row or line of grass, grain, or other crop as it lies when mown or reaped.” Or “a strip left clear by the passage of a mowing machine or scythe.

“Trading barbs gets only 369,000 hits. We note in our journalese dictionary that “trading barbs” usually does not mean swapping Barbie dolls.

-Robert Skole

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