by Rip Rense
The Lingo Czar is finding 2003 syntax to be
skeevy, but is ramping up his courage to face the rest of the lingo year.
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
recom- mended minimum punishment of one day of self-imposed silence).
SKEEVY---You read it
here first: now heralding the birth of a new cliché, it's. . .skeevy! As James
Cagney yelled in "Mr. Roberts, " "Sound the general alarm!" Skeevy
popped up in a recent L.A. Times article describing Viggo Mortensen in "Lord
of the Rings: The Two Towers." Apparently, this is the latest way to say
"creepy," "uncouth," "unappealing," etc. (Sorry, Viggo.)
Prepare to encounter it emanating from every pop cultural-type media mouth. A, and
soon to be T and CP.
meaning, "to ready" (verb), ramp up is regularly employed by politicos,
pundits, and the pretentious, apparently to make them sound folksy and down-to-earth. The
Czar hears it in reference to everything from starting war to launching a sitcom
(sometimes a fine distinction.) We're not preparing to invade Iraq, we're just ramping
things up. Where are all these ramps? The origins of this expression are too dull to
contemplate. T, A, P, CP.
Makeover, Extreme Sports, Extreme Cake Decorating. . .Just another slice
of the hypertrophic pie. "Good" was long ago supplanted by "great,"
"model" by "supermodel," "superstar" by "icon,"
"best" by "best of the best," and so on. Everything is trying to
out-do itself: the size of cars, volume of movies, hysteria of discourse, insanity of
tennis shoe design. Somewhere in the dank caves where marketing/demographic monsters plot
your manipulation, the word "extreme" crept out and wrapped its slimy tentacles
around what's left of the American consciousness. I don't think I'm being extreme here. T,
A, P, CP. (Thanks to reader Jim Oostdyk.)
_____ DUDE---The Czar has
previously written of the "dude" disease, and the spectactularly creative
employment of the word as a noun, verb, adjective, and declaration of joy, anger,
disappointment, affection, sorrow, and possibly constipation. Now comes the latest
permutation, that of title. "Car dude," "computer dude,"
"mealworm dude"---it's ubiquitous in radio, television, and all speech heard
within a one-mile radius of UCLA. The only good thing about "_____dude" is that
it might supplant "_____guy." T, A, CP.
cold keyboards of corporate managers springs this bloodless inanity. Translation: hiring
people without offering benefits or security; sheer heartless exploitation. A remarkable
example of how corporate managers remove all humanity from language, and in the process,
from their treatment of employees. Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels would be
proud. A, P, CP.
popular euphemism with pundits, especially those on the right (as distinguished from
"in the right"), this is intended to trivialize the gravity of genuine anxiety.
There is a great deal of concern over the government's potential invasion of privacy,
while searching for terrorists. There is a great deal of concern about the ever-impending
Iraq invasion. Vice-President Dick Cheney and others on the right labelled these concerns
as "a certain amount of hand- wringing," and it caught on. The Czar's ears are
ringing over "hand-wringing." A, P.
everyone! Big one, now! Show The Czar your pearlies! That's it. Now do the same thing when
you get to the last syllable of "employees," bearing in mind that this is a
three-syllable word! Here we go, ready? Say "Em. . .ploy. . .(flash
those choppers, now) EES!" You did it! Now show your friends, and maybe
they'll show their friends, and maybe it will eventually reach TeeVee newsmannequins. You
see, "employee" is often (correctly) spelled "employe," which confuses
the poor Newsmannequin, who is a stranger to pronunciation symbols in the
dictionary. Newsmannequin figures that "employe" must be two syllables,
but isn't quite sure, so fudges it a bit, and stretches out that second syllable, just in
case. The result: the neither-fish-nor-foul "employyyyy." Imagine the stress Newsmannequin
suffers every time he/she confronts this word. And. . .smile! A, W.
it's the latest casualty of the verbalize-the-noun syndrome. Let's calendar that
tonsilectomy in! Calendar me for Friday! Put calendar in a colander and
rinse the verb out! That should solution the problem. A, W. (Thanks to reader Leslie
BREATHE A COLLECTIVE SIGH OF RELIEF---A
hoary old media stand-by, and so deeply entrained in public speaking that it crouches
behind the synapes, awaiting the slightest prompting. Listen to an NFL broadcast, and you
hear it more often than "great competitor." Two questions: does all that
collective sighing by the population deplete the ozone? And do people hyperventilate
afterward? T, A. (Thanks to reader Jeanine Mendoza.)
cousin of "ramp up," this originated in reference to stock market reports (Maria
Bartiromo certainly caused an uptick in male viewers---uh yuck ,uh yuck), but has since
become a TV newsmannequin flavor of the day. An "uptick" on Wall Street has
spread to "an uptick in military presence" and an "uptick in concern over
Michael Jackson's nose." Uptick threatens to suck more blood out of honest
language like "rise." T, A, P.
GOOD FOLKS AT---One of
the 10,000 objectionable things about radio commercials is that every product is offered
by the good folks at. . .Harvey's Lugnuts. The good folks at. . .Leo's
Rat Poison. Yessir, nothin' but good folks out there---nothin' but good folks
in every emporium, everywhere! So many good folks, The Czar wants to regain his
faith in humankind! Of course, this is a demographer's effort to make you think that the
people at Burt's Buns are good folks just like you! When they are probably
slovenly, beer-swilling, unshaven, backstabbing, wife-cheating, sitcom-watching average
citizens. Hey, maybe they should just say that---more people would identify. T, A, CP.
NEED SOME HELP OUT TO THE CAR WITH
THAT?---The Czar is getting old, but not that old. So why do young
fellows---and yes, girls!---constantly ask The Czar if he needs help carrying his
groceries to the car? Ah, because extra-terrestrials implanted them with microchips! Must
be! It can't be that managers have instructed them to say this to perfectly healthy
adults, can it? It can't be fear of lawsuits, can
it? A. (Thanks to reader Steve Plesa.)
FOR THE 21ST CENTURY---You
know, The Czar went to sleep on the last night of 1999 (or 2000, if you're a perfec-
tionist), and woke up in the 21st century. Funny thing--- nothing seemed any different!
Yet advertisers who spew this phrase with gusto---a car FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY!.
. .a dog collar FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY---seem to want to convince you that
because of a number change on an artificial time measurement, cars and dog collars are
very different. They're not. T, A. (Thanks to reader Dick Sherman.)
of Hypertrophia, "approval" subsection. How and exactly when people began
shrieking like gibbons to indicate approval is of no conse- quence. It's just part of the
"ramping up" of emotion in the losing battle with relentlessly desensitizing
media. And not only is the style of approval way out of control, approval itself
is way out of control. Every time an unknown actor/actress (usually named
"Justin" or "Britney") is introduced for the first time in front of
any TeeVee audience, the crowd begins making noises as if it has missed feeding time. Why?
There is no more restraint or judgement when it comes to displaying approval. This is the
"give it up" phenomenon---as if withholding approval/ applause is somehow
egocentric and mean. Woooooooooever started this deserves no approval at all. T, A, P,
The Czar wishes you a reader dudes a skeevy