Taking issue

There is a matter I would like to discuss – a subject near to my heart – which concerns the problem I have in accepting the over-use of a certain word. This difficulty arises from the fact that most people, these days, seem to know no alternatives to this word. Whether it’s a fault in my hardware or a defect in my software, or a question raised in parliament, or a dispute between neighbours, it’s all covered by the same word: ISSUE.

In fact, I could (and many people would) re-write the preceding paragraph as follows:

There is an issue I would like to discuss – an issue near to my heart – which concerns the issue I have in accepting the over-use of a certain word. My issue issues from the fact that many people, these days, seem to know no alternatives to this word. Whether it’s an issue in my hardware or an issue in my software, or an issue raised in parliament, or an issue between neighbours, it’s all covered by the same word: ISSUE.

Not that I have anything against the word itself. It’s a fine word, with a respectable history. It’s just that it is used so much now that many other, equally respectable, words – such as those I used in my first paragraph – are now unemployed; on the dole. Which seems a pity.

Listen to any newscast, or read any newspaper column, and I can pretty well guarantee that you will find ‘issue’ used at least once, and often many times over. Why? What have those other words done, to be consigned to the linguistic scrap-heap?

I’m going to issue (it’s a valid use, and ‘promulgate’ is so ugly) a challenge to all journalists: see if you can go a whole week without using that word. I am sure you will feel better for it, and your vocabulary will be distinctly healthier.

Anyone got an issue with that?

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