Wooden language is language that uses vague, ambiguous, abstract or pompous words in order to divert attention from the salient issues. The French scholar Françoise Thom identified four characteristics of wooden language: abstraction and the avoidance of the concrete, tautologies, bad metaphors, and Manichaeism that divides the world into good and evil. The phrase is a literal translation of the French expression langue de bois which appears to have been coined by Georges Clemenceau in 1919, but it became widely used during the 1970s and 1980s after being brought back into French from Russian via Polish.
In France, wooden language is commonly and strongly associated with politicians and the conditioning at the National School of Administration, as attested by intellectual Michel Butor: "We have had, among the misfortunes of France, the creation by General de Gaulle of the École nationale d'administration which holds the monopoly of the training of politicians. They have to go through there, where they learn the wooden language".
- Caparini, Marina; Fluri, Philipp (2006). Civil Society and the Security Sector: Concepts and Practices in New Democracies, LIT Verlag Berlin–Hamburg–Münster, ISBN 3-8258-9364-2.
- Michiko Kakutani, "The death of truth". The Guardian, 14 July 2018
- Emmanuel Legeard, « Une Conversation avec Michel Butor », Le Monde, mars 2016