The view of one of the loudest peevologists around — and author of a dictionary specifically for dimwits (see image) — has now appeared there:
"Gone" or "went" missing is dreadfully popular today. Everyone from reporters on "CNN" to detectives (or their writers) on "Without a Trace" now prefer it.Wow, those words are dying out because of gone/went missing? Hard to believe. And amazing that Fiske made a claim that can be checked empirically. I just ran a quick QueryGoogle word count and found this:
People are so dull-witted and impressionable that, today, in this country, the popularity of "gone" or "went missing" has soared. Words like "disappeared," "vanished," "misplaced," "stolen," "lost," "deserted," "absconded" are seldom heard today because "went missing" has less meaning, or less exact meaning, than any of them, and people, especially the media, perhaps, are afraid of expressing meaning. What's more, "went missing" sounds willful or deliberate, and, indeed, sometimes that connotation is accurate, but the child who has been kidnapped is hardly agreeable to having been so.
From "Silence, Language, & Society" by Robert Hartwell Fiske
Now, that isn't controlled for date and it doesn't filter out references to the TV show Lost (surely 600,000,000 hits), but getting about 750 million hits for the words Fiske thinks are "seldom heard" and just over 2.5 for the marauding gone/went missing doesn't look promising.
A quick and dirty Google advanced search for the missing forms limited to the last month shows 42,700 g-hits, while disappeared is at 1,160,000 for the same period and vanished at 335,000. In both cases, the ratio of gone/went missing is lower over the last month than in the general Google search. For instance, overall, disappeared is roughly 20x more common than gone/went missing and in the last month it's almost 30x more common. Gone/went missing may be in the process of going missing.
I don't have time for a closer look right now, but it would be easy enough to run this with somewhat cleaned up data from the Corpus of Contemporary American English over the last couple of decades and see how the numbers look there. I bet it's the same as we see here.
Maybe it's not "the people" who are "dull-witted and impressionable" here.