I pick up Steven Poole's Unspeak now and then and every time I read it my language senses are sharpened.
Unspeak is about how the powerful use words and expressions to make certain effects. I particularly like this:-
Rather than saying 'I think' that something is the case, Bush and Blair, for example, consistently preferred to say 'I believe.' What does this apparently trivial decision accomplish? Well, it encases the speaker in an armour of faith. If you 'think' something, you may just be mistaken. Moreover, to say 'I think' implies the kind of cold ratiocination that may dent a politician's likeability rating in polls. If he claims to 'believe' something on the other hand, whether he is right or wrong on the issue in question, he is automatically virtuous, because he is at least sincere; he believes.
"Believe" and "feel" are words of equality for the lowest common denominator. Anyone can believe or feel, not everyone can think. Believing and feeling require no intellectual effort. "What do you feel about that?" the interviewer asks a citizen who has suffered some personal blow - e.g. their child has been knocked down by a train. "I feel something should be done about trains knocking down children." Someone who knows about railway transport and that only three children are killed a year by trains compared to the four figured numbers killed by cars (I'm making these figures up) is the heartless wielder of statistics and chilly facts.
I used to get cross with Greenham Common listen-to-the-earth types who would rail against the male world of reason and how you can have too much intelligence. "I don't think you need to worry about that for yourself," was the obvious response which I hope I made at least once.