Rampant verbal abuse

In an Economist podcast about the negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal, someone asked a question: ‘Do you see any way of on-ramping these talks again?’

The World Today Published 12 February 2020 Updated 28 September 2020 1 minute READ

Almost as alarming as the prospect of the Iranian regime acquiring nuclear weapons was the revelation that another metaphor had been verbed.

An ‘on-ramp’ has been used for some time as a synonym for a gateway or access point in the US press. The New York Times recently reported that ‘critics and independent researchers say YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to extremism’. It’s what in Britain we call a slip road, a road leading on to a dual carriageway, so it is not a bad analogy for a way of accelerating into the mainstream. It even cropped up in The Guardian the other day, in an article, admittedly by an American, about yoga, which she described as her ‘therapeutic on-ramp’ to a state of control over her body.

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