Monday, July 24, 2006


In State's Lebanon Lingo, No 'Evacuees'

Monday, July 24, 2006; Page A17

"Evacuation" apparently is a dirty word at the State Department. We're told that during deliberations at Foggy Bottom about getting Americans out of Lebanon, it was decided that "evacuation" was too negative -- and of course it erroneously implied the notion of ferrying people in a dangerous place to safety.

So it was decided that the language issued by the State Department should not use this word. "Departure assistance" and "safe passage" are preferred. There are also those "people assisted out of Lebanon" or "departees." People are "transported out," and the total number of "assisted departures" is rising.

This echoes that problem last year when some people called displaced Katrina victims "refugees," or people seeking refuge, which they clearly were not. "Displaced people" or even "evacuees" seemed preferable then.

But State's linguistic gymnastics seem a bit forced. After all, they're leaving on cruise ships, aren't they? So they're tourists, right? Or maybe cruisees?

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