D. Herbert

Friday, July 29, 2005


Pedantic Word Exercise #1

Normblog discusses the latest from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (via Glenn Reynolds).

In it, Alibhai-Brown uses what is to my ears a very strange term: she calls the British anti-suicide bomber shoot-to-kill policy "this blast-to-kill policy."

On Google: the phrase "blast to kill" appears quite a bit, but it's usually in the form of "use a laser blast to kill the video game boss on level 3." Blast-to-kill is used in the rapper C-Bo's song "spray yourself" (explicit lyrics), but that's the only mention of the term I could find to mean gunshot blasts.

In my mind, I associate "blast" more with explosive devices than with gunshots. "Gun blast" on Google generally refers to the flame/noise produced at the end of the gun's barrel, not to the bullet itself. It makes sense to separate the gunshot blast from the bullet itself (referring to them as separate things) because they can be separated: use of a suppressor can greatly reduce the muzzle blast at the end of the barrel while still firing a shot, and one can create a gun "blast" without actually launching a bullet by using blanks.

It does not make sense to disassociate the actual damage done by the bomb from the bomb blast, because the blast is what creates much of the damage --and the rest of the damage is caused by the shrapnel, which travels with the blast, whereas a bullet is launched by the blast but does not travel with it.

What I'm getting at with all this is, did Alibhai-Brown consciously choose the term "blast" in order to imply some sort of equivalence between the bomb blasts and the police gunshots?


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