As a language lover, I too cringe at the overuse of jargon, jibberish and lifeless babble highlighted in the article and interview, Attack of the Weasel Words from MSNBC.com.
There is only one problem. The story has nothing to do with "weasel words." Is it not ironic that an attack on lazy language usage features a headline that demonstrates a lazy use of language?
As explained in this Manila Times article:
[A] reference to “weasel words” was actually made as early as 1900, when a political writer by the name of Stewart Chaplin described them as “words that suck the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks the egg and leaves the shell.”We lawyers are particularly fond of weasel words. A well placed "substantially" or "material" or "may" or "should" may give your client the opening needed to win an argument.
In contemporary times, of course, weasel words are those terms or phrases we deliberately slip into the language to create the illusion of truth. They do no great harm when they simply take the form of “may,” “might,” “could,” and “should,” which are polite hedges for commitments we really don’t intend to keep (“I should be there if plans don’t miscarry.”)...
Weasel words likewise come in handy in the face of uncertainty or inadequate information. We rescue our faltering or floundering arguments in formal writing or discourse with such artful modifiers as “it may seem likely that,” “but the possibility also exists,” and “to a certain degree,” as in this statement: “It may seem likely that, as claimed by my usually reliable sources, that the information presented by my political opponent is possibly misleading to a certain degree.”
When asked "What are the “weasel words” you dislike most?" the author of the book being promoted, responds:
"Implemented." You'll see implemented everywhere. In this language, you “implement” rather than speak or do. And then there is enhanced. Everything is being enhanced. That word is being used in place of other more precise and descriptive words. You can enhance your marriage or your job. You can even implement your enhancements. And "input" is another good one. Companies talk about “input into our people.” This reflects technology and accounting [ideas]. It all has to do with input and outcomes.It may all have to do with input and outcomes, but it has nothing to do with "weasel words."