Our diction—choice of words—can dramatically alter the effect of what we say or write, even though the literal meanings of two optional wordings are identical. My students and I often contemplate the effects of diction in literature, but today I found a nice example from the world of politics in an article about the current financial crisis in the U.S.
“The Times/Bloomberg poll asked respondents whether they believed it was ‘the government’s responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayers’ dollars.’ A majority said no.
“The Pew poll, by contrast, asked respondents if ‘investing billions to try to keep financial institutions and markets secure’ was the right thing to do. A majority said yes.”
So, they’re for it if you say it one way, against it if you say it differently. A lesson for us all.