Rhymes, Rants & Accolades from North Central BC

LANGUAGE  POLLUTION

Jan 29, 1976 Sense and Nonsense (Nechako Chronicle)

In the past few years there has emerged a brand new kind of pollution. Actually it has been around for a long time, but is becoming more prevalent. It is language pollution. A spade is no longer a spade but is more likely to be called a “manual excavator” or some other such high falutin’ thing.

Some jobs have been upgraded recently, at least verbally. A garage mechanic now calls himself an “automotive internist”. A garbage collector is now a “sanitary engineer”. A flunky or cooks’ helper is labelled a “kitchen porter”. I suppose a housewife could be considered a “household coordinator”. A teacher could be an “education engineer” and a student an “education recipient”.

Bureaucratic officials have perfected the art of doubletalk or language pollution. The ability to say the least in the longest possible time is an asset in this day and age. Some political speeches communicate absolutely nothing to us ordinary people. Most of us feel we would have been more well-informed had we watched “Sesame Street” instead.

An article in the September 1968 Readers’ Digest explains the art of double-talk. A U.S. Public Health official has compiled a chart of key words which he calls the “Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector”. The chart consists of three columns composed of thirty “buzz words”. Any word in column one can be combined with any word in column two and column three to produce a phrase which has “that ring of decisive authority, which can be dropped into virtually any report” – to quote the Digest.

I picked out a few words (the smaller ones) at random from the chart. Here are some phrases I came up with: Functional policy mobility. Total third-generation capability. Balanced digital concept.  Optional organizational programming. Compatible reciprocal projection. They certainly sound as if they mean something important.

But what?? A fellow on the radio was just referring to an outhouse. He called it an “outdoor comfort station”. He should station himself on ours when it is cold outside. I am sure he would change the word “comfort” to something else.

I have invented a few more gobbledegoop phrases to add to our language pollution crisis. Small child: mobile monitored organism. Baby: sedentary monitored organism. Dog or Cat: compatible non-human cohabitant.

I can hear our mobile monitored organism exercising her vocalization capacities. This household co-ordinator must become a sanitation inspector and then place her on her mini-comfort station. Progressive posterioral programming would hopefully result in drastically limited laundermatic activities.

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