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RIPOSTE

by RIP RENSE

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Lingo Czar Derides Again!
10/30/02

        
Listen up, Lingophiles and Lingophobes, it's time to Lingo! There's a Lingo moon above/ we will fall in Lingo Love. . .Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack go under Lingo stick. . .Lingo lower, now. . .Lingo lower, now. . .How low can you go? The Lingo Czar is back, and once again lowering the Lingo bar. (Apologies to Chubby Checker.)
        Citizens are therefore advised to avoid using the following worn-out phrases, buffoonish slang, buzzwords, mistakes and 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).
        E-mails---E-mail is a singular thing, literally and figuratively, and has affected our pluralistic society profoundly. But no matter how singular your e-mail might be, "e-mail" is both singular and plural. As they might say in The Heartland, "it don't need no 's'." Ah, you protest, but how do I avoid saying, "in one of my e-mails?" Answer: get some aversion therapy, or try "in an-email I received." W. (Thanks to reader J. Gray.)
       
The Heartland---When did everywhere outside of New York and California become "The Heartland?" The Czar's guess: a truck commercial did it. Remember? Grotesque rock music thundered, a monster truck roared around, and a guy with a voice like Satan's kennel-keeper shrieked "in the HEARTLAND!" Okay, okay, the middle of the country is more or less geographically the "heart" of the country. But the connotation is that this is where people have heart; where the down-home just-plain-folks have a corner on common sense; where real reason resides (plus lots of trucks.) Democraps and Repugnicans consantly invoke "The Heartland" in speeches, always with a winsome, nostalgic tone that panders to down-home just-plain folks. Manipulative use of "The Heartland" by advertisers and politicians is heartless. The Czar wants no truck with it. T, A, CP.
       
The Money Shot---Ringing down the corridors of Corporate America, along with "team player," "get with the program" and "synergy" comes "the money shot." This refers to the payoff; the remunerative crux of a project/idea/event. Sound innocent enough? Not when you consider the origin, which is the porno industry, where "the money shot" refers to graphically capturing the uh, seminal moment. It leaves the Czar wondering which is more odious: corporate cogs who use it innocently, or those who winkingly use it with knowledge of its earthy origin. A, P, CP. (Thanks to reader Dan Ratchford.)
       
Rainmaker---More (yawn) corporate-ese from "human resources" types who devise cutesy terms to convince themselves that their jobs are glamorous. A "rainmaker," of course, is the corporate cog who brings in the business, who hustles up clients, who rousts new suckers. Native Americans should stop protesting the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians, and go after corporate managers who say "rainmaker." Dry up. A, P.
        Went missing---TeeVee newsmannequins have adopted "went missing" in describing people who vanish, disappear, or otherwise dematerialize. (Figuratively!) Folks, does this sound right to you? You know, (fill in the blank) "went missing" last week? What is that, a sport? Like "went curling?" "Went skeet-shooting?" The Czar doesn't care if the grammar is correct---it just sounds funny. (The Czar's Grammar sounded funny, too, but she was an old lady.) Come on, "A twenty- year-old Podunk man went missing last week" sounds composed by a first-grader. Never mind that a lot of TeeVee news- mannequins speak like first graders, anyhow---the Czar hopes that "went missing" goes missing. A, CP. (Thanks to reader Jari Skiles.)
       
In a very real sense---This is a fave of Secretary of War, er, that is, Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. (Example: "In a very real sense, the people of (Iraq) are hostages to a small group of dictatorial, repressive government officials.") It is good that the secretary prefaces his statements with "in a very real sense," in order to mute the entirely unreal and surreal quality of his statements. One assumes that Mr. Rumsfeld employs the phrase to explain that his meaning is not figurative---which would be fine, if the meaning seemed figurative in the first place. "In a very real sense" is almost a phrase equivalent of that most commonly deployed misusage, literally. Mr. Sec'y, you don't use literally when you are being literal, and you don’t use "in a very real sense" when you are being real. It's redundant. Of course, Donald ducks lots of simple language. This is, after all, a guy who likes to dazzle the press with his use of military-isms, such as "asymmetrical enemy." A, P.
        Asymmetrical enemy---What is this, somebody you don't like with a lousy figure? Squinting through those bi or tri-focals, Mr. Rumsfeld grits his teeth as he refers to terrorists as the "asymmetrical enemy." Good God, this is straight out of "Dr. Strangelove!" Next he'll be talking about "preserving our precious bodily fluids." What in geometry's name is an "asymmetrical enemy?" Okay, the Czar realizes that this is military-speak, and has a specific meaning: presumably an enemy who is scattered and not easily ascertained. So why use General- speak when talking to us (pardon the expression) rummies? Does Mr. Sec'y like to sound like a general? The only asymmetrical enemy the Czar recognizes is Rosie O' Donnell. A, P.
        Size does matter---Oh, ho ho ho ho! Aw haw haw haw haw! Ah, what a knee-slapper! Yuck-a-yuck-a-yuck! Ah, the rapier wit of the American TeeVee newsmannequin! How many times do you hear a plastic-coated, capped-toothed, grotesquely grinning TeeVee "personality" invoke this expression regarding any story/issue/anecdote involving size? You know, there is a little feature about somebody making giant cookies, and a newsmannequin says slyly: "size does matter!" This dreary, dreadful, dullard attempt at humor is almost as needling a presence as Jay Leno (speaking of dumb sex jokes.) Oh, how coy! Oh, how cute! Oh, how. . .puny. T, A, CP.
        Unbelievable!---Along with "absolutely," unbelievable is absolutely unbelievably overused. Believe it. T.
        The Czar wishes all you rainmakers in the Heartland a good day, in a very real sense. Keep those e-mails coming.

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