The Linguistics of Mass Persuasion: How Politicians Make “Fetch” Happen (Part I)

Chi Luu, JSTOR Daily, Feb 10, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm not going to wait for Part 2, because this story is interesting enough already. 'Making fetch happen' (meaning to successfully start a cultural/linguistic trend) is the objective of entertainers, politicians, and yes, educators. But ultimately, it is media that makes it happen. "Mass media institutions, from the press to social media, follow them around, broadcasting, sharing, and reinterpreting their every word, on repeat, even if they actively disagree with their agenda and ideology." And this mechanism is manipulated; the article has several examples, while in Canada we have the way 'tar sands' became 'oil sands' almost overnight. And the message is deeply personal; "the subtle rhetoric in these terms seems to almost force a stance on identity and the values you hold." If you think education is free of the phenomenon, think again: think of terms like 'diploma mills', 'grade inflation', 'lifelong learning'.

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