Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Occupational euphemisms

Where have all the secretaries gone? They haven't gone anywhere. They are just called 'administrative assistants' now. As if four syllables were not enough. What was wrong with secretary? Should I refer to Donald Rumsfeld as the "Administrative Assistant of Defense"?

I do think it makes sense for MDs to call themselves 'physicians', at least occasionally. 'Physician' is more precise than 'doctor' (which is short for 'doctor of medicine'). What is less excusable is calling a lawyer an attorney (which is short for 'attorney-at-law'). The word 'attorney' is far less precise than 'lawyer'. I hear that lawyers do this because they think that 'attorney' sounds more dignified, but I am convinced that the law profession just wants to appear at the front of the yellow pages.


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