Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Death of a Word / Word of Death

The holidays this year were shaken from their good cheer with the incredible images and stories of death that a series of tsunamis caused in 9 countries bordering the Indian Ocean. 45,000 people killed (at this point). The timing (as if Nature had timing…) could not have been crueler.

For those of us in the States, the shock could be understood as our attention is not obtained unless the numbers of the perished climbs high. Tsunamis in the past decade resulted in deaths in the teens, possibly the hundreds. Just not enough to register on our emotional radar. They all happened over in the Far East; far away enough not to have tragedy interest us, close enough for us to load up on holiday related detritus.
"How many American deaths equal how many Italian deaths equal how many Rwandan deaths? Such a question may seem insensitive to a culture in agony, a nation built upon the ideal that all are created equal. But as we ponder the meaning of more than 6,000 human beings dying in acts of terror on our own land, it may be time to contemplate what it means as journalists to number the dead." Read on at Poynter on-line

However, we're not exactly strangers to this phenomenon. There is evidence that a major tsunami struck Canada sometime in the early 1700’s, wiping out an entire native village in Pachena Bay. Europe, specifically Norway, is also subject to punishing waves (see
Norwegian Tsunami ).

If you’re not inundated with enough information already, Tsunami Info is a rational place to go to. Of course, there will be internet places like Armageddon on Line, where rationality takes a back seat to scaring the hell out of you.

Such a cataclysmic event will have an effect on tsunami, the word. Companies such as Tsunami.com will have to do some creative name-changing. Otherwise, their company name will trigger thoughts of death and destruction to potential and existing companies.

Newspaper and magazine articles that proclaim something like Tsunami of Change will have to be edited. "Tsunami" will be anathema in a written piece that doesn’t specifically have to do with a watery disaster. Or else, a modern-day Ambrose Bierce will have to surface to add his/her take of "Tsunami" for "The Devil’s Dictionary".

For those with tendencies leaning toward compassion rather than derision of mankind, donations can be made @ Red Cross.org

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