Tue 5 Nov, 2002 08:35 am
I love words, but there are few things I hate more than experts or would-be-experts who seem less interested in communicating their idea than they are in impressing their readers with their own knowledge.
The word gobbledygook was coined by Congressman Maury Maverick to describe the language of officialdom. Here are some examples of the gobbledygook we all love just so much:
routine, limited-duration, reinforced, protective-reaction air strikes (translation: bombing missions)
combat emplacement excavator (translation: shovel)
pupil stations (translation: desks)
human interment space (translation: cemetery)
All transactions effected pursuant to this instrument shall be effected for the account and risk and in the name of the undersigned; and the undersigned hereby agrees to indemnify and hold you harmless from, and to pay you promptly on demand, any and all losses arising there from or any debit balance due thereon.
You'll be responsible for anything you owe on your account.
The following example of gobbledygook was taken from a government directive concerning blackout procedures during World War II; it was "translated" into plain English by Franklin D. Roosevelt:
Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal and non-Federal buildings occupied by the Federal Government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination. Such obscuration may be obtained either by black-out construction or by termination of the illumination.
Tell them that in buildings where they have to keep the work going to put something over the windows; and, in buildings where they can let the work stop for a while, turn out the lights.
My own motto on all of this: You can take my sanity, my freedom, even my very life, but you'll never take my coherence.
When two soldiers of the Continental line were apprehended in the act of rape, their colonel sent a note to Washington to this effect. After a court martial, he sent the following to Washington:
"Accused convicted, recommend execution."
Washington endorsed the note: "Concurred in," and returned it to the Colonel.
The Colonel endorsed the note: "Executed," and returned it to Washington.
Would that our modern "leaders," bureaucrats and pundits could understand that brevity is not only the soul of wit, but the essence of business efficiency as well.
Do you mean:
Solar clothes dryer instead of clothesline
orgulous instead of proud?
There are times when big words are needed for precision. Those times are few and far between.
In all honesty Craven, your posts occasionally strike me as having The Gobbledygook Nature;
:wink: but you, unlike government tax forms & large organizations, obviously have an incredible handle on the language. I frequently find myself looking up useful words from your posts.
Over at movingon I overdo it. But I admit to a love of big words (and small words, it's words in general that I love) and without using them they will never get into my active vocabulary. It's off putting to some but I'm willing to put up with that.
I do, however, differentiate bewteen sesquipedalian (coulda used verbose or wordy) posts and corporate or legal jargon. I use it because I'm vain (and to practice vocab) but legalese can simply make no sense at times.
But to me there is a distinct difference between all words, a big one where a amall one would do is not always a valid argument IMO.
Sometimes I refer to MrsC as my spousal unit. I guess that's better than vaginal life support system.
The military terms you mention, Monger, are unabashedly meant to obfuscate. They are really sugar-coated euphemisms, rather than gobbledygook. "Pacification" means bombing the s**t out of the enemy. "Collateral damage" means dead civilian non-combatants. And so forth. A recent bugaboo of mine is the constant reference to police using their 'batons' to break up a demonstration. What's with the 'batons'? They're clubs or nightsticks. Batons are for orchestra conductors.
Like Winston in 1984, i want to spend my life re-writing history into doublespeak . . . god, what a way to make your living . . . you know, it was evil Democrats who prevented the Shrub's pappy from sendin' ol' Saddam straight to hell, where he belongs . . . God's truth, just look it up my forthcoming book History You Never Knew, But Better Learn Pretty Damned Quick . . .
I don't profess or confess to being a grammarian. I am but a scholar, as we are all, and all I intend on doing is using that which I have learnt and am still learning to aid and benifit those around me, whom have not been as fortunate as I. (naturally for money) ha-ha
I do however enjoy and appreciate all of the controversy surrounding all the complexities of the English language. The diversities and exceptions are almost endless which is why this forum is here, to give anyone and everyone the freedom to express themselves in new and unique ways in order to improve their comunicative abilities.
This is what the students of a language should know in order to learn how to comunicate with people around the world and also why we have such an extensive vocabulary.
I must admit that reading these posts, I find that I agree with almost all of you on something and at some level..
You wrote, "...the best way to avoid jargon is to always avoid a high-sounding word when a simpler one would do the job. ..."
There is merit in what you say above, when it is applied to a situation of avoiding jargon and lack of clarity. However, there is a built-in risk that people might, and sometimes do, transform your suggestion into "Never use a big word when a simpler word will do." That's where I part company with the concept. I like the widest possible range of words to use: big words, simple words, non-English words, obsolete words, funny words. Having unlimited use of all known and even newly invented words is the best way to be creative, communicate with precision, rescue dormant words, bring historical and global perspective to our awareness, and have fun with language.
There! I've spoken my piece, but as a piecemeal worker, I have plenty more.
Well said indeed, Aa.
(edit:) The reason I added that line was mainly just to open up debate on this topic. :wink:
Aa, when are you going to get an avatar - are you going to add one ever?
I must agree, Aa, and likewise hold that, although generally it is, especially when produced in an extramundane or otherwise recondite manner, in certain instances the hyperbaton is not totally out of order.
And the same to you, too, M. deBacle!
Aa -- Welcome!!!
We were all wondering when you'd get here. (well, I was wondering anyhow.)
Could we, like, exterpate the circumlocution?
But sometimes more than half the fun of getting there is the circumlocution!