Thursday, April 26, 2018

A time for semantics (part 1)

Some earlier mass killings-by-vehicle, e.g., “the Berlin Christmas Market attack” or “the London Bridge attack” are named for more specific places. This one, on our “longest street in the world,” makes “Yonge Street van attack” unworkable.
     But is calling this “the Toronto van attack” (CNN, The Guardian, Globe & Mail, National Post) a done deal? How events get their names is the question of Peter Eglin, who traces how a 1989 event initially called terrorism, tragedy, and disaster, became “the Montreal Massacre.” Holocaust, Shoah, Final Solution: names encapsulate our views of cause, effect, rightness, wrongness, extraordinariness, ownership, and appropriate redress.

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