The Events 

Rosie Right

A reader has e-mailed Rosie: "I have been thinking about how there has not been any one 'catch phrase,' or name given to 'the events of Sept. 11.' Will we ever come up with a name for that terrible day, a la 'Pearl Harbor Day' or 'D-Day,' or will we forever refer to 'the events of Sept. 11'?"

Rosie believes that the tragedy has already received its name: 9-11 (or 9/11). There are many listings on the Web that refer to 9-11. We hear some circumventions of that, as in "the tragedy of September 11" — or worse, the "incidents." But the fit of the date with the emergency telephone number seems too neat for us to move on to something else.

While we are at it, however, let's cast a vote for getting rid of CNN's ridiculous title lines like "America's New War" and "America Strikes Back."

William Safire has already taken care of an analysis of the phrase "ground zero," which is universally used to describe the site of the Twin Towers. It originated in 1945, he says, from a description of the "point on the ground directly under the [nuclear] bomb's explosion in the air."

Reader Cinda Caiella sent these comments: "In wake of the terrible events of September 11, I was almost content to let the talking heads babble on, but the continual use of cliches and bad word usage has done me in.

"I learned in school that normalcy is not a word, but was a misuse of normality by Warren Harding in his inaugural address."

Our reader appears to be almost correct about normalcy. The New York Times' "learning" Web site reports that "Harding's inaugural address became famous for its promotion of 'normalcy,' a word he erroneously used during his campaign. One of his campaign speeches contained the word 'normality,' which he mispronounced as 'normalty' or 'normalcy.' The latter word (not commonly used, though it appeared in a dictionary in 1857) was reported by the media. Harding liked the term and decided to use it frequently."

His usage was certainly contagious. When Rosie initiated a Google search for the term on the Internet, she found 200 references.

We will have to give media a pass on the use of normalcy, but let's hope reporters will try to minimize the use of cliches.

Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825, ext. 322), letter (1707 Summit Ave., Suite 201, Richmond, Va. 23230), or e-mail repps@styleweekly.com.


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