It’s not ‘fracking!’ We call it ‘deep earth massage’


Alberta made a cameo on the justly popular Language Log linguistics website last week. U of Calgary prof Julie Sedivy signed in to discuss some survey evidence from Louisiana that public resistance to “fracking” (i.e., hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting oil and gas more efficiently by injecting high-pressure sand, water, and sometimes other chemicals into wells) may result, in part, just from the unpleasantness of the word. The industry tends to use “frac” as an adjective; “fracking” as a verb is a media creation, though, it must be said, not really an unsuitable one. Hydraulic fracturing is intended in part to crack up petroleum-bearing rock strata, so there’s an onomatopoeic appropriateness there.

The Louisiana study [PDF] did find significant differences in survey responses between people who had “fracking” and “hydraulic fracturing” described to them in those terms and those who were given a more elliptical description that referred to “high-pressure injection”. As Sedivy points out, an experimental control of this nature is necessarily a little loose. But it does raise the ugly possibility that we are going to see further low-level linguistic warfare of the sort that has divided Canada asininely into standard-bearers for the terms “oilsands” and “tarsands”. To which I can only say: oh, for frack’s sake.


It’s not ‘fracking!’ We call it ‘deep earth massage’

  1. And anyone who’s ever watched Battlestar Galactica cannot help but get at least a small kick out of watching certain TV personalities discuss the merits and demerits of fracking. The Lang & O’Leary Exchange ranks high in this regard.

  2. All I know is that tracking is odious at best when the proponents need not divulge the chemical concoction they inject into the ground

    • There’s about 595 chemicals used in “earth massaging” haha at the earth massaing

  3. There is nothing funny about the fracking procedure when you watch them pump acid from 20 huge acid dumps right into the water table, big joke.

  4. Learn a little about how the procerdure is done before you spout this idiotic drivel people. The drilling of the well does more damage to a water table than fracing. Too many people talking out of their *sses here. I would be more concerned about the runoff that drains into our aquifiers and water streams if I was you. Have you smelled the water in the spring that washes away from farms. Look at the Wakerton incident, how many people died because of a broken well casing on a farm, a water well I might add. Maybe we should start investigating this first before pointing fingers.

Sign in to comment.