Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

Taking a Decision to Have a Problem With Issues

January 31st, 2008

There are a couple of fairly recent changes in the language usage that trouble me. It’s not that I’m a grammar nit-picker, but that language telegraphs attitude. It’s the attitude I find troubling, not the strictness of grammar or corruption of word meanings, per se.

First is the substitution of “issue” for “problem.” When my internet service breaks down they announce that there is an “issue” with the server. Now, while I understand what they are saying, the server is kaput and that is the problem, I wonder why it is described as an “issue”? On further reflection, we see “problem” used in the form of: “Do you have a problem with that?” No, I don’t have a problem, my ISP has a problem. The “issue” is whether the problem will be solved and by whom? So now I realize that, by calling the problem an “issue” this absolves anyone from admitting that it has to be fixed. Issues are subjects of discussion. Problems are situations that must be resolved. By asking if “you have a problem with that?” the responsibility of the problem is deflected to the person who perceives the problem, not the one responsible for fixing it.

The second change I’ve observed is the transition from “make a decision” to “take a decision.” The latter has been the British habit for some time, but why has it caught on in U.S. popular (maybe journalistic) usage? Let’s look at the difference. If you “make” a decision, you take responsibility for it, after all, you’ve made it. If you “take” a decision, someone else has made it, you are just adopting it — hence no responsibility.

We have only issues and we take decisions. How convenient. And how politically correct. Nobody is offended, nobody is responsible. Bureaucracy reins supreme.

As for me, I’ll define and fix problems and make my own decisions.

One Response to “Taking a Decision to Have a Problem With Issues”


  1. […] an earlier post (here) I observed that the press has adopted by conventon “a decision was taken” over the […]

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