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Thread: Semantics....

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    WA State
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    4,391

    Semantics....

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    I was reading yet another account of a traffic incident when at the bottom of the page all of the other recently reported similar incidents popped up.... What really glared out at me were that nearly all of the headlines state that the vehicle struck the other person...

    Pedestrian Killed by Dump Truck (instead of Dump Truck Driver)
    Couple Struck by SUV in WalMart Parking Lot (instead of SUV driver)
    Prius Hits 3 Pedestrians, Including child.... (instead of Prius Driver)
    Car crashes into Renton building, killing office worker (instead of driver)

    In only one, Seattle Bicyclist Critically Injured by Hit and Run Driver do we name the real culprit.. the driver...

    I think it is a really a telling thing that we generally refer to the vehicle instead of the driver and also generally call motor vehicle collisions "accidents", whether or not they are truly accidental. Until and unless people start taking or are forced to take more responsibility for being a "driver" it's going to be impossible to make our roads much safer and more civil. I think it might actually help to change the semantics of reporting on these incidents - even if it is subconsciously I think we are implying that it these things aren't our fault and are just an acceptable risk of life. I'd like to see that subconscious push put to a little more on the individual.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  2. #2
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    Nov 2009
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    West MI
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    Akin to this...when people who are texting/playing on phones while driving cause "accidents." F*ck that...that's not an accident. An accident is something that happens when a person takes all reasonable precautions to be safe, but something unforeseen occurs. Driving too fast on slippery roads and crashing is no accident, either. Or drinking, getting behind the wheel, and losing control of the vehicle.
    Kirsten
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    6,465
    Good observation, Eden.

    Interesting that it's such a bike-friendly city where there the wording is different.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

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  4. #4
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    Sep 2007
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    Uncanny Valley
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    I've been going on about that for YEARS. It's not just the headlines either. Same thing in the body of the stories. sigh.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    3,213
    The language usage is interesting, but possibly not deliberately assigning/avoiding blame.


    The linguist in me hears this as a thesis topic in search of a graduate student.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    3,213
    I heard another one recently. An article about a Mormon politician arrested for drunk driving, said "...the car ran a red light..."
    Each day is a gift, that's why it is called the present.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    942
    Just this morning I saw an news interview with a state trooper who was addressing this very topic. He was talking about why the department no longer spoke of vehicle "accidents" but rather "collisions." Very very few of those incidents are truly accidents; inattention or general stupidity almost always plays a role. The focus of the interview was DUI, this was a side note, but very interesting.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Illinois
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    3,135
    Quote Originally Posted by skhill View Post
    Just this morning I saw an news interview with a state trooper who was addressing this very topic. He was talking about why the department no longer spoke of vehicle "accidents" but rather "collisions." Very very few of those incidents are truly accidents; inattention or general stupidity almost always plays a role. The focus of the interview was DUI, this was a side note, but very interesting.
    It's easy to say "car" -- I have to think about, when I'm telling anecdotes, identifying that a driver went somewhere with the car. I name 'em by name when I can.

 

 

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