Thursday, February 08, 2007

A little (fairly recent) verbing ... 'to truth squad'

An announcer on NPR, which I was half listening to while doing something else, just said they were going to have somebody 'truth squad' something. I didn't know this as a verb, but it gets some g-hits, in political and journalistic circles. American Speech had the noun in 1979 in "Among the new words", with a 1952 citation.

Of course, you get a kind of split we see so often now in political stuff between two patterns of usage. One group consists of people using it as part of a (presumed) search for accuracy, like this from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, basically like the NPR use:
"Truth squad" is a term you hear quite a bit around our newsroom during election season. We tend to use it as a verb, to describe the practice of checking the accuracy and veracity of statements made by a political campaign. The P-I truth-squads claims made in local and regional campaigns.
The other group, where I don't find it used as a verb (on a cursory search), is composed of highly partisan attack groups, who've taken the name, not for a general search for accuracy but to tear down particular individuals and political points of view. This is of course much like the swift boaters, who got verbed very quickly. Paul Krugman seems to have attracted a particularly virulent crew of them, with the phrase "Krugman Truth Squad" trademarked. (See here for details.) Checking a few such hits doesn't actually show that they've found much in the way of untruth; it's mostly invective. Maybe they should change their name to Truthiness Squad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Careful there, Sir Verb ... Luskin and his Truthiness Squad goons might start stalking you!