I was wondering about the usage of legalese in everyday speech and how that might be affecting our society. (For the those that don't know, that's the language contracts are written in.) The reason I was wondering was that I just read an article mentioning private contractors. This must be the millionth time I've seen or heard the term "private contractors" but this time I found myself wondering if the use of the term is legalese or political correctness?
So, everybody should know that "private contractors" is a fancy way of saying mercenaries. Mercenaries are soldiers that fight for profit under contract instead of loyalty or nationalism. I was wondering if the term "private contractors" is being used as spin by politicians in order to dodge away from the negative connotations of the term "mercenary" or if the media uses the term in a politically correct way so as not to label all of the engineers and dishwashers under private contract in the warzones as "mercenaries". I've heard strangers use the term "private contractors" in publicly overheard conversations.
I know about the story of blackwater (the most infamous amongst the merc organizations in Iraq) and I know that most of their "employees" are ex-special forces guys from the U.S.A. You gotta know that Blackwater gets their money's worth (and so do their "employees") out of some very lucrative federal contracts. So we can see why "mercenaries" might not have the right connotation when high level officials are trying to make war sound business-like.
The idea of everyday speech between people using lawyer-speak to describe the things they are talking about kind of worries me. Would conversation start to sound like you are in a court of law? I have to admit the chance that this trend could end up with people being much more specific when speaking and so do away with miscommunication, but I doubt it. Lawyers often use legalese as a way to confuse or hide what they are actually saying.
The other side of this is political correctness. I always agreed with George Carlin that politically correct terms are childish and stupid. There are no such things as bad words. It could be that the media started using the term "private contractors" in a P.C. way in order to not label everyone oversees under government contract a "mercenary". I sincerely hope that's not the case. To whitewash the idea that we have American mercenaries killing and dying in a war in an attempt to not be rude is completely ridiculous. I have heard of secretaries and truck drivers mentioned as "private contractors" and they are, for lack of another term, just that. Then the media turns right around and refers to mercenaries as "private contractors" (and they are) instead of "soldier's for hire" or "mercenary" or any other term that would be more descriptive of what they actually do there. Is it just spin? Is it P.C.? It could be a case of both, I suppose, but I can't tell one way or the other.
Does the idea of legalese and political correctness being embraced by the public at large bother anyone else? I would love to hear other people's opinions on this.
Oh and I do know that Blackwater U.S.A. is now called Xe in case anyone thought it necessary to point out.