Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Critical Shortage of Buzzwords - a National Crisis

In the last two posts I’ve discussed the specialized languages of the military and of advertising. As I noted – and as you certainly don’t need me to tell you – specialized language is employed by various trades, the legal profession, and especially the government to enlighten insiders and obfuscate things for the uninitiated. In the words of George Orwell, “Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Despite the existence of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires government agencies to use clear, plain language when dealing with the public*, and a wonderful website called Plain that extols the virtues of clear and precise writing in government service, it can still be a sore trial to understand what your elected reprehensives and their minions are telling you**.

The problem of obfuscatory language in government is bad enough, but it’s getting worse, because the federal government and its subordinate agencies are running out of buzzwords.

The General Services Administration (GSA) today published the results of a lengthy study which confirmed that, at current rates of use, the pool of available buzzwords will be completely exhausted by the end of 2016. The study documented alarming trends in the gratuitous use of buzzwords with no consideration being given to moderation in use or conservation for future requirements. The situation is grim for both liberals and conservatives, although it appears to be much more dire for conservatives, who require a large supply of politically-correct buzzwords to accommodate the requirements of a broad spectrum of traditional political conservatives, religious conservatives, libertarians, neocons, Reagan Republicans, RINOs, Tea Party zealots, isolationists, survivalists, and many others.

As a result of the study, the GSA today announced a new program to identify new and exploit previously untapped sources of buzzwords. The program will explore such potential new sources as buzzwords used by previous generations and once thought obsolete, buzzwords used in various foreign languages which can be carried over into English (with or without translation***), and the tapping of the National Buzzword Reserve which, like the National Petroleum Reserve, is a resource meant to be drawn upon only in times of the most dire national emergency. Another aspect of the program will encourage the worlds of business, academia, and entertainment to cooperate in developing new and sustainable sources of buzzwords.

In a statement accompanying the public announcement of the new plan, The Honorable Frank Lee Speaking, GSA's Principal First Deputy Vice Under Director for Buzzword Management, said "At the end of the day, the American people must step up to the plate, take the bull by the horns, and get down to brass tacks as we face this existential threat to our national linguistic security."

Do your part. Volunteer your buzzwords today. The nation is counting on you.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* It actually says, “The purpose of this Act is to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.”

** If you doubt me, take a few minutes to read the instructions for calculating and reporting your income tax. Have aspirin ready.

*** An example is the recent popularity of the expression “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” the translation of a Polish proverb indicating that the speaker is not responsible for the activity under discussion. This is a particularly useful expression for members of Congress, who are in constant need of creative ways to deflect blame for their own incompetence onto the other party.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

It seems that this is already served by private enterprise, such as with

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Clarissa said...

When I'm in a meeting that's likely to be long I write down the buzzwords as they are used. I found that the number of buzzwords was inversely related to the effectiveness of the meeting.

Mike said...

I just thought of one. 'Lose weight and feel great. Vote a fat cat out of office.'

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

I think we should run this up a flagpole and see if anyone salutes it.

Duckbutt said...

We need to optimize our resources, achieve bottom line consciousness on this. Brother, can you spare a paradigm?