Just a word to the wise, even the most objective media can slant your opinion: not by overt propaganda (as most Middle East media do) but with simple language nuances.
Language: a system of symbols that help us to communicate facts, thoughts, and feelings. Sounds innocent enough, well it isn’t, and the media and advertising industries have known this for a long time, and so have some of the world’s best writers. Since these are the “communication” times, where information is disseminated at dizzying speed and in overwhelming quantity, it’s important for those who want to be well informed to be able to do a quick analysis and an instant filtering in order to discern the real facts and arrive at some sane opinion.
Below you will find different terms used in media today to describe one situation, occurrence, or phenomenon, using different terminology (in both English and Arabic), as well as some suggestions as to what they may really mean to imply. This is just the very short list, as this is a 101 level, feel free to add your favorite “synonyms”.
Fundamentalist-Extremist-Ultra Orthodox أصولي-متطرف-ارثودوكسي متطرف
All very close in meaning, I mean a fundamentalist is an extremist ultra orthodox believer. But note how Ultra Orthodox is a little less threatening than fundamentalist, and how fundamentalist is a little less threatening than extremist.
The dead simply ceased to be living, casualties were victims, and martyrs are heroes, that’s how we quickly interpret these words in our minds.
Killed implies some violence, murdered implies violence and criminal intent, while slaughtered implies barbaric violence.
Hundreds-Thousands-Tens of Thousands… مئات-آلاف-عشرات الآلاف-مسيرة مليونية
Ah, the numbers game! When do hundreds become thousands? Is 999 about a thousand? Or is around 800,000 a million?
Demonstrations-Riots-Civil disobedience مظاهرات-أعمال شغب-عصيان مدني
Civil disobedience is perceived to be the tamest and most peaceful, demonstrations are a bit scarier, but riots are really scary.
Rebels-Insurgents-Freedom fighters متمردين-مقاتلين-ثوار-مجاهدين
Freedom fighters are noble, rebels are romantic, insurgents we don’t really know what to feel about.
Leader-Strong Man-Head of قائد-زعيم-رئيس
A leader is a father figure that has supporters, a strong man is more like a gang leader who rules by force, and a head of is kind of neutral.
All of these terms carry negative raps, Guerillas however sometimes has more of the freedom fighter connotation than a gang or a militia. And militia implies a more organized gang with a purpose.
Stormed-Attacked-Stomped شن هجوما-اقتحم
To storm something is almost neutral in its outcome, although it means a swift and strong action. To attack is a bit more aggressive in nature, and to stomp implies greater angry aggression.
Invaded-Occupied-Marched into غزو-احتلال
The nuances of language here are at their best, to invade has a sort of temporary feel to it, while to occupy implies long term. March into is the most neutral.
Supporters and proponents seem to be well aware of what and who they are supporting, while followers implies a type of blind and ignorant faith.
Never underestimate the power of a single word, every word carries within its folds many emotional and intellectual triggers that (unfortunately) can move the “masses”.
P.S. My hairdresser and I were discussing this issue yesterday (just to dispel one more stereotype about hair salon conversations!)