Absolutely Sure

Just a quick snippet today, as I’ve been composing stuff for use elsewhere:

“absolutely sure”: A rare example of the double-positive negative grammatical form in the wild. “Absolutely sure”, in technarch jargon, means “educated conjecture”, or indeed “wild-assed guess”.

See also: “reasonably sure”, qualified certainty, dubifier, Rationalist-Empiricist Pissing Contest.

Trope-a-Day: Deadly Euphemism

Deadly Euphemism: Outside certain specialized and arguable applications, the Imperials don’t really go in for euphemisms.  Some of their terms sound a bit like euphemisms, but “erased” reflects the technical difference between cognicide and corpicide – namely, that you have to kill people in the information-theoretic sense (see: Final Death) if you expect them to stay dead, and just killing the body won’t help you much.  It’s more like sending a really strongly worded message.

Likewise on a bigger scale, use of the term “cauterize” to describe an operation is entirely literal.  Were you to see what a deployed antimatter bomb does to its target, I think you would have to agree that it is, indeed, pretty damn cauterized.

And while for perfectly obvious reasons no-one can now say “this is not war, this is pest control”, that wouldn’t be a euphemism either.