“it’s just kinda language”

That was Cabinet minister Paula Bennett about half-way through an interview with RadioNZ journalist John Campbell last night.

She was being pressed about a dividend to be paid – or not – to the government by Housing NZ. It was the news story du jour, and journalists were doing their job, trying to find out who was telling the ‘truth’, what the ‘truth’ was.

And the minister’s response? : “it’s just kinda language”!

I was gob-smacked. The Minister seemed to saying, they’re just words, it doesn’t matter what they mean, let’s move on.

Some people might start to think of terms like accountability, honesty, truth.

Or they might think they’ve joined Alice through the looking glass.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

John Macalister

John Macalister’s research interests include second language reading and writing, issues in language learning and New Zealand English. He teaches courses in language teaching methodology (reading and writing), and curriculum design.

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