Saturday, 14 March 2015

A justification

Peter (the first and only replier) has not responded but his comments have prompted some thought and this came into focus when the phrase 'real people' was used on the radio last night.

Why do I object to the use of 'ordinary people'  when compared to, say, 'real people' or 'normal people'? I believe that two aspects of the words must be considered:

Firstly, is the word complimentary?
Secondly, consider its opposite.

Thus, being categorised as 'ordinary' is not complimentary, An opposite,  for example 'extraordinary' is usually positive.

Real is a positive attribute, unreal is not (and surreal is almost invariably misused).

Normal blood pressure is good, a normal approach is fine (if a little unimaginative) but abnormal is usually pejorative.

So when a politician refers to ordinary people without obviously including him- or herself in that group, they are implying some form of superiority and, as noted in earlier postings, experience suggests that they are  probably not superior. If they used 'real' or 'normal' this would, by comparison, be self-deprecating.

The origin of this campaign was an intuitive dislike of the usage. I now believe it is also justifiably rational and so will continue.

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