Instead of political double-speak I would like to look at a concerted effort of the media to alter the public opinion of the sucker punch. This is being achieved by replacing a phrase possessing a positive connotation with one that better describes the sinister act.

A sucker punch is basically punching someone in the head when they are not ready. Previously it was reported as a “King-Hit” which alludes to a grandiose and macho action. This has been replaced with the term “Coward Punch” which is a much more accurate description of it.

Growing up with my fair share of knuckleheads I was exposed to these word games in day to day life. The guy who threw the sucker punch would call it a “King Hit”. The one on the receiving end would label it a “Dog Shot”. The same action would receive a different name depending on which side of the altercation one was on.

Interestingly, in self-defence terminology it is called a “Pre-Emptive Strike”. The logic is that in a real life violent encounter blocking and dodging is ineffective. If you are reacting to the onslaught of the other person you are in a lot of trouble. One saying that sticks with me is “in order to succeed in a violent encounter, you need to be the one doing the violence to the other person”. This is good advice if you are in a terrible situation where violence is your only means of escape. Unfortunately many people resort to violence simply because they are losing an argument, or worse, just in a bad mood. “Pre-Emptive Strike” could be a way for a person to justify their “Coward Punch”. The USA invading a foreign country springs to mind for some reason.

5 thoughts on “Week 10: The “Sucker Punch”

  1. Nigel, your thought provoking post reminds me of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s book “Texts, Thoughts and Things.” They claim that our everyday language is ultimately framed by metaphorical concepts as our ideas are food which can be half-baked or hard to swallow, love is a patient which can die and not be revived and our understanding is framed by sight as we can see your point or hold a different point of view. It’s so interesting to analyse how the use of language can change our perception of a single action, such as a “cowards punch.” I wonder if the media holds all the cards in this battle between positive and negative connotations or if society’s stance informs the media to change the language used? I guess we’ll never know how it starts, but as long as we identify these shifts in language we can understand the gravity of a single phrase.


  2. Hi Nigel,
    You make a very clear and easy to follow point. You write very fluidly, as a result your idea is poignant. Your points remind me of George Orwell’s argument in “Politics and the English language” that words shape thoughts and therefore the writer has a responsibility to tell the truth. Similarly, in his Nobel lecture, Harold Pinter argued that from an artist’s perspective, in art “there are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false, it can be both true and false.” (n.pag.). Yet on the other hand, from the perspective of a citizen he “must ask, what is true? What is false?” (Pinter n.pag.). It makes me wonder about the way that the media reports on maritime asylum seekers. Great work!


  3. Dear Nigel,

    I like how you have addressed an issue I really despise and shown how words have been skewed and changed over time to make the wider population consider an event one way or the other. I am so glad that after so long, the media has decided to portray the punching of another human, with intent to injure in such a way, although I consider it was a long time coming and almost, too little too late.


    Johanna. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

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