by RIP RENSE
LINGO CZAR'S SECRET
(July 13, 2005)
Czar hereby secretly leaks vital national lingo information to The
Rip Post, in the interests of national lingo security. If this leak is
traced back to the Czar, all will be denied and The Rip Post
editorial board will be fully prosecuted by impartial right-wing extremist
Citizens are hereby
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 alleged 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
Ya THINK?---Ya think that ya think is just a little
thoughtless? Ya Think? Ya think ya think is spoken when someone has
done no thinking? Ya think? Ya think thinking is beyond the means of those
who say ya think? Ya think? Ya think that people who don’t think like
to sound folksy? Ya think? Ya think that self-styled intellectual types like
to say ya think in order to sound down-to-earth? Ya think ya think
got into the thought processes like a boll weevil gets into cotton? Ya
IS IS---The problem is, is that the problem is redundancy.
That is, repeating things unnecessarily. That is, being repetitious. You
know, saying things more than once. Redundancy. The thing is, is that is has
become is is. The trouble is, is that is is sounds stupid
stupid. Also, is is isn’t right. Is is. Yes, is is is a
spoken peculiarity, the result of collecting thought in mid-sentence (or
something that passes for thought), but really, is is shouldn’t be.
(Thanks to reader Tom Zyrkowski for the suggestion.) W, A.
SNUCK---Let’s all go back to third grade, shall we? Not a
bad idea, really. On many days, ‘tis a fate devoutly to be desired, but. .
.one would think that high trained televisions journalists---people have
spent years in universities, studying exactly how to twitch their eyebrows
and appear fabulously concerned---would know basic grammar. Oh, now, there
The Czar goes, being naïve again. TeeVee Newsmannequins, of course, are
beyond the rules of grammar. They are so busy conveying vital information
that a little verbal or syntax glitch is to be excused, right? Especially
when they are under the pressure of “reporting live from” a place where no
news is happening. All, right, end rant. The point is that “snuck” has
become the accepted past tense of “sneak” among TeeVee Newsmannequins.
Somehow, this has sneaked right past all news directors and editors. The
implications of this are obvious. Why not just hire actual third graders to
edit and read TeeVee news? What? They already do? W, CP.
REPORTING LIVE FROM---Well, you’re sure not reporting dead
from, are you, TeeVee Newsmannequin? Oh, maybe better rethink that.
Considering the usual absence of substance and information in your
reporting, you really do have much in common with a nicely rouged corpse!
“Reporting Live From” has come to substitute for actual live reports.
Meaning that once upon a time, a live report meant covering something when
it was happening, and having a reporter on the scene at that moment was
important. Now TeeVee Newsmannequins get up at 3 a.m. to report live from
the courthouse where the trial will take place later today, and from
downtown where the mayor will meet with representatives of. .
.Throughout the day and into the late evening, Newsmannequins report live
from the scene where a kid on a bike was killed three days ago, and
where a bus was hit by a driver in a police chase hours earlier, etc. Yes,
it is to give the illusion of timeliness, but reporting live is
almost never on time. And when it is, it tends to be about something
appealing largely to those who are dead in the head: chiefly another
car chase---a phenomenon that has become nothing short of spectator sport.
Reporting live from The Rip Post, this is the Lingo Czar. Now back to
you in the studio, Dick and Jane. . .T, A, P, CP.
ERUDITE---Far be it from the Czar to make any pretenses of
erudition, but “erudite” has long been a vexing matter to His Wordliness.
Everywhere, from TeeVee Newsmannequins to the man on the street (and woman),
it is mispronounced. Of course, not many men on the street (or women) even
know the word, let alone are able to pronounce it, but that’s beside the
point. Everyone says “AIR-ee-yoo-dite.” From Diane Sawyer (who certainly
affects the greatest air of erudition on the Toob) to bad sports announcers
(a redundancy.) Now, The Czar automatically ponders whenever he hears the
word, where did that “ee” come from? Is everyone being secretly pinched in
the haunches by twisted knickers or stung by a secret bee in the middle of
“erudite?” As near as Your Vocabularius can determine, the word is
Attention, all AIR-ee-yoo-diteheads---drop the “ee.” It makes you all sound
less than erudite. (Footnote: at least once, the word has been pronounced,
“erudite-y,” by the author of this fine limerick, found on the
Will people who aren't erudite-y/ Know how to pronounce Aphrodite?/They
won't know the e's long/ So in verse or in song/ Aphrodite should come after
nightie. Now that is an erudite poet.)
A, P, W.
IN A TIMELY FASHION---George “President” Bush loves this one,
as do, of course most U.S. Governmentmannequins. It makes them feel all
puffed up and officious and generally testicular. It crops up constantly in
reference to Iraq, as in all will be cured and healed and generally spiffed
up in a timely fashion. Yet what does this mean? What,
exactly, is not accomplished in a timely fashion? Why, nothing less than
everything that is governed by time, that’s all! Which is to say, everything
(with the possible exception of Yoko Ono, who looks about twenty-five.) What
it really means, of course, when emanating from the twisted lips and nicely
polished teeth of politicos, is “whenever the hell we get around to it.” The
Czar wishes that this term would be retired in a timely fashion. That time
being now. T, A, P, CP.
BABE---Well, isn’t it obnoxious enough that men refer to their
beloved spouses and lady accomplices as “babe?” And “baby?” The Czar
certainly wouldn’t want to go through life being addressed as “baby,” by a
man or woman. Which is why he finds it so disorienting and
heeby-jeeby-rousing when a male addresses him as “babe.” This has happened,
mercifully, only in the context of sports participation, but it has been
overheard in general public discourse. See ya later, Babe. Yes, men
addressing other men as “babe.” Heterosexual men, at that. What next, men
slapping one another on the hindquarters? A, CP.
HONEY---Help! Please! Save me! Save the Czar from the Honey
People! They are everywhere! You hear them in markets, theaters, on the
street, on the Toob, in nail salons and dog grooming facilities: “Honey? Do
you have my keys?” “No, I don’t, Honey.” “Honey, what do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know, Honey. What do you want to eat?” “Honey, I told you not to do
that!” The Czar actually heard a male Honey Person address a female Honey
Person with this sentence (approximated from memory): “Honey, if you
continue to do that, I’m going to have to lecture you, and I don’t want to
do that, Honey.” And female Honey’s response: “Okay, Honey.” The Honey
People seem to pretty much own and operate the United States of America. You
find them in all levels of government, lobbying groups, churches, AA
meetings. The Czar
is not a Honey Person, and sometimes wonders if the Honey People are all
aliens who have been slowly infiltrating infrastructure worldwide. He would
like to hear from all other non-Honey People, as he feels more and more
isolated by the day. T, A, CP.
INFRASTRUCTURE---How and why this term suddenly became so in
vogue is further evidence of humans actually having been descended from
parrots. Although, considering the recent data suggesting that parrots can
actually reason, this speculation perhaps denigrates these magnificent
birds. Everything has a &^^%%$$!! infrastructure now. Mayors and presidinks
are endlessly talking about fixing and repairing infrastructures. As
if there is some actual structure girding up the seat-of-the-pants chaos
that actually governs cities and countries. Where is this structure, then?
Anybody ever seen an “infrastructure?” P, A, CP.
WILD CHASE---Yawn. Burp. Sniff. When and how did it happen
that every single person writing TeeVee news stories for TeeVee
Newsmannequins at some point decided that actual writing just cluttered
things up? When did it happen that they all switched over to the TeeVee News
Book of Cliches? All TeeVee Newswriting is just an array of clichés strung
together in different arrangements. Every dog story prompts the “going to
the dogs” line, Gawd help us. And every car chase prompts the Newsmannequins
to arch their eyebrows, open their eyes wide, shake their heads slightly
from side to side, and say in “See Spot Run” voices, “We’ll show you a
wild chase in (fill in the city) today!” That’s right, all the Honey
People then get very excited at the prospect of watching videotape of a
“runaway driver” or “lone gunman” or “disgruntled ex-employee” driving like
Steve McQueen through Lomita or down some numerically designated freeway.
Chase wild chase out of town. T, A, CP.
DAUNTING TASK---Every little problem has now become a
“daunting task.” “Daunting” has taken the places of “difficult,” “hard,”
“troubling,” “vexing.” It just sounds so much more genteel to say
“daunting,” doesn’t it? (Note to Brit wannabes: your phoney lingo
affectation just became more daunting.) All the TeeVee Newsmannequins train
all the Honey People to say “daunting,” and the results are daunting to the
spirit. Daunting used to be such a perfectly respectable and handsome
word, but now has had all its burnish buffed away by overuse. T, P.
BLOW ME AWAY---The Lingo Czar has probably visited “blow me
away” before, but the warnings apparently went unheeded. Yes, one could
argue that this is a descendant of the rustic “Blow the man down” of
sailor’s ditty fame, but that is as much dignity as the term can possibly,
by any stretch, claim. “Blow me away” probably started back in the ‘70s as a
term meant to indicate one was astonished, amazed, overwhelmed, staggered,
thunderstruck, dazzled, wowed, dumbfounded, stunned, or even. . .surprised.
It likely developed from pot-speak, a more colorful manner of expressing the
sort of delight and wonder of events experienced while under the influence
of marijuana (or, possibly, more potent agents.) It has long, long since
entered mainstream lingo, and now is as common as “Hi, how are you?” and the
USA's favorite expression, f--- you. Every square, middle-aged, staid
interviewee on NPR, in discussing a film or piece of music, or performance,
seems to say, “it blew me away!” The Czar always wonders where these people
have been blown to, and if it was a nice trip. If, on the other hand, they
might mean it reduced them to nothingness, in which case they are doing a
very able job of appearing substantial and functional. Even if they are
relying on a cliché as trite and silly as “blow me away.” T, A, CP.
I WANT TO THANK GOD---The Czar has a question for every
athlete, rapper, “icon,” star, supermodel, and other potent personage in
this jackass society who gets up in front of adoring minions and says,
“First of all, I want to thank God.” The question is, why in hell do you
think God gives a rat’s ass whether you thank Him (or Her or It)? Don’t you
think that God has more important things to do than to listen to your
idiotic thanks? Who do you think you are, that you are so important as to
merit God’s ear whenever you happen to want to thank Him (or Her or It?) And
what makes you think that your puny, nothing accomplishments merit the
attention of Him (or Her or It?) Frankly, the Czar thinks that God does not
see or hear or care about any of this. The Czar thinks of God as a kind of
eternal croquet player, oblivious to all except the wickets and balls laid
out before him. T, A, P, CP.
YUUUUP---Now, this verbal virus has yet to infect anyone known
to His Verbosity, who will have to take it on authority from a reader in
Oregon that it is sweeping the voice boxes, teeth, lips, and tongues of
young people. It is another case of using a colloquialism barely above the
order of a grunt, in lieu of actual thought and speech. When someone says
something that you essentially agree with, instead of remarking on the how
and why of your agreement, you simply nod and utter a protracted “yuuuuuup.”
Well, why not? Seeing as most of the country wants to wear big black hats,
boots, jeans, and sing songs about primitive matters (mating, fighting, and
also mating and fighting), shouldn’t language get behind the same mule? Ya
think? Yuuuuuuup. A, CP.
YOU’RE WEKKOM---This has been around forever, generally spoken
by ladies who either are, or should be, painting frilly pastel lilacs on
Hallmark Cards. They are the same kind motherly types who always have a
spray can or aeromatic bottle of unidentifiable floral fragrance in the
bathroom. They generally go through life with tightly pursed lips, doing
sweet little things, and they often play songs like “Tomorrow is Another
Day” badly on piano. (If that isn’t a corny old song, it should be.) And for
reasons known to persons more wise than The Czar, these ladies never say
“you’re welcome.” They say, “you’re wekkom,” ending the second word with a
tight-lipped smile. Now, this was really sort of quaint and even endearing,
but recently, “you’re wekkom” has migrated into the general populace via
girls---er, young women---working cash registers at various emporiums. Here
the pronunciation does not stem from colloquial sweetness, but from the
contagion of unconscious imitation. What’s more, The Czar will wager that,
asked to spell the phrase, a great many would spell it exactly as they speak
it. Of course, this assumes they are not among the great masses infected by
the disease that makes people answer “thank you” with “thank YOU.” You’re
wekkom. A. (Thanks to reader N. J. Pinney for the suggestion.)
Have a lovely lingo day. In a timely fashion, of course.
BACK TO PAGE ONE