The Rip Post


RIPOSTE


by RIP RENSE

Riposte

May God Bless the Lingo Czar. . .

      The Lingo Czar, fresh from several rounds of high colonics and arcane ointment therapies, hereby pronounces himself fit enough for lingo denunciation.
      All citizens are therefore advised to avoid using the following worn-out phrases, buffoonish slang, buzzwords, mistakes and/or mispronunciations infecting and muddling clear and dignified communication in this, the 21st century. They are rated "T" (trite), "A" (asinine), "P" (pretentious), "W" (whoops), and "CP" (criminally prosecutable, with recommended minimum punishment of one day of self-imposed silence).
      Candi-dit---If you've noticed that people discussing politics seem to periodically lapse into Morse code, you're not alone. When did the long "a" drop out of "candidate?" Look, The Czar is not big on remembering birthdays, but otherwise has nothing against dates at all. "Candi-DATE" is actually easier to say than "candi-DIT," which makes the sudden spread of this pronunciation all the more suspicious. People are deliberately working their teeth and tongue extra hard just to say "di-DIT" instead of "di-DATE." Do they imagine this sounds more refined, less banal? Seems to His Wordliness that it just sounds di-DITZY. P, A.
      Rubicon---There are words that spread like Avian flu through the birdbrained journalist population, usually with the aid of a well-thumbed Thesaurus. "Hardscrabble" popped up one day in a feature story, and soon became epidemic. Hmm, thinks a staff writer, this'll make me sound literary! Well, now, suddenly everyone is meeting his or her Rubicon. It's the latest "hardscrabble." The Rubicon, for the record, is a small river in northern Italy. Caesar crossed it with his hardscrabble army in 49 B.C., prompting civil war and giving rise to the contemporary definition: to embark upon an undertaking from which one cannot turn back. You know, like Michael Jackson and facial surgery. Larry King and young blondes. Now the media is having everyone cross Rubicons. It's in every second interview/article/commentary. Attention, reporters everywhere: once you become pretentious, there is no turning back! P.
      Calculus---"Do the math" is enough of a word problem. TV newsmannequins and punditmannequins are forever barking, "do the math" in reference to things that do not require mathematical analysis. You know, "Dean came in third---Clark is in the next primary---do the math!" Or, "Madonna endorses Clark---do the math!" The Czar can't help but wonder if any of these people can do any sort of math at all---let alone calculus. Yes, "calculus" is the new "do the math." You hear CNN beauty queens soberly asking "what is the calculus" of various issues, in place of such venerable phrases as "what does this mean," "can you analyze this," "let's put this in perspective," or "why?" By the Czar's calculations, using "calculus" is calculated to make the user sound sophisticated, yet just makes them sound sophomoric. In other words, it doesn't add up.
P, A, CP.
      Suh-weet---This has been around for years, true, but then, that's the whole problem. The Czar has been patiently waiting for people to sour on "suh-weet," yet it continues to spice speech---notably among those strange, possibly supernatural children who relish riding the wooden part of their skateboards on the edges of curbs and staircases. While you expect such slang from kiddies, you do not expect it from anyone with a passable vocabulary. (Ah, that explains it.) Suh-weet, while providing a refreshing respite from the tyrannical, suffocating "cool," and sounding vaguely like a bird call, still leaves a bad taste. A.
       I'm no fan of---A transparent ruse! A common little ploy! A see-through ingratiation! Here's how it works: when you wish to convince someone of wildly opposing viewpoint that you are a reasonable person---and that your perspective doesn't really differ than much from his/hers---you begin your sentence with "I'm no fan of (issue/person of choice.)" Left-winger to right-winger: I'm no fan of Bill Clinton, but. . . Right-winger to left-winger: I'm no fan of the federal government, but. . .It's a patronizing little effort to create the illusion of civility and reason---and possibly a touch of  "I'm really on your side"--- when in fact the writer/speaker would prefer to say something along the lines of "please lie down under a bus." T, A, P, CP.
      Tough drive---Attention all TV/radio trafficmannequins! Those of you who earn your living by heroically, nobly, and otherwise courageously risking life and limb to bring the world news of. . .uh, traffic. Yes, it's much to ask, considering you put your life on the line in helicopters to give commuters the shocking news that traffic is. . .bad. Still, please, please, please retire the dusty cliched euphemism, "tough drive." It gives the Czar emotional gridlock. There you are, Ms. Trafficmannequin---all glammed up, breasts on full alert---soaring above a scene of sheer Hell on Earth: thousands of people sitting, dead stopped, on great sheets of concrete, and you have the nerve to say "this is a tough drive." This isn't a tough drive! This is a date with Oprah Winfrey! This is reason to throw absolutely every elected official in L.A. out of office! The lack of light-rail paralleling freeways in L.A. for the past 30 or 40 years is highway robbery! Think of all the time lost, ulcers earned, deaths and injuries suffered. Calling dead traffic a "tough drive" is like calling Rupert Murdoch "ambitious." T, A, CP.
      I don't know if that's completely true. . .Hey, TV pundit- mannequin, why not just say what you think? Why not just say, "horsefeathers!" Or "nonsense!" Or "you're as full of stuffing as the Christmas goose!" Or "this is only partly true." Or "blow it out your. . ." Listen: The Czar doesn't mean to go Socrates on you, but nothing--- nothing---is completely true. Except, possibly, that Charlie Rose talks too much and some people are just born mean. A, P, CP.
      Commie---Oh, my. The country is overrun with Slim Pickens, at least as he was in "Dr. Strangelove." Them commies is ever-wahr! Look out, they's a-hidin' under yer beds! Ah seen one in mah Big Gulp! Yes, incredible as it seems, "Commie" is commonplace again. Never mind that there are no communist countries, really. Never mind that even when the USSR and China called themselves communist, they were really just totalitarian. Never mind that today's China is going capitalist faster than you can say "tax cut for the wealthy." Thanks to Rush "Hillbilly Heroin" Limbaugh and his ilk, much of the country has come to equate caretaking with communism. The Czar has had conversations with full-grown adult homo sapiens who substitute the word, "commie" for "liberal," or even "Democrat." The notion of a government having a duty to the welfare of the people has gotten all Limbaughed up with "commie." One hopes it peaked when goofy Ann Coulter likened FDR's policies to commie plots, but it isn't likely. (Wonder how people who raised families, bought homes, and went to college on the G.I. Bill felt about that.) This is a very sad Lingo day in the country, when people are so ignorant, unintelligent, and brainwashed as to believe that "godless commies" are out there, lurking. Strange that they don't seem to fear the godless capitalists lurking in the corporatocracy, bleeding them dry. A, CP.
      And may God bless the United States of America---Hey, Mr. Prez, why not end a speech---just once---with, "And may God bless Antarctica." You know, just to throw 'em a curve! I have to think that God must be a little tired of this country asking Him to bless it so much. Hardly a political speech goes by without some blowhard pleasing the gawdfearing constituency with this God-and-country refrain. And---just my feeling here---God pretty much blesses whatever He wants to, regardless of who asks for a blessing, right? I mean, you don't exactly push this Guy around. Besides, why should He exclusively bless the United States of America? Wouldn't that be taking sides? I thought God was an equal opportunity blesser. Doesn't He bless pretty much anyone who does good things? And doesn't President Bush want Him to bless all those other people and countries out there who "believe in freedom," as he is fond of saying? Well, bless me, maybe he doesn't, and I guess that's his business. But The Czar is blessedly tired of hearing pious, pompous, imperious jokers saying "And may God bless the United States of America." T.
        I'm no fan of false niceties, but have a suh-weet Lingo day, commies. And may God bless Antarctica.

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                                                                2004 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.