The Rip Post




     Of all the tons and tons of "weapons of mass destruction" allegedly held by Saddam, authorities have so far found next to nothing. But take heart---the Lingo Czar has ferreted out lots of verbal WMD, further justifying his ongoing attack on rogue Lingo states.
        All Lingo terrorists are therefore advised to avoid using the following worn-out phrases, buffoonish slang, buzzwords, mistakes and/or 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 recommended minimum punishment of one day of self-imposed silence).
    DOG (also DAWG)---Dog, the Czar is all in favor of humility, dawwwg. Loves no one better than someone who does not take himself/herself seriously, dog. Lack of pretense? Dog, the Czar can't pretend to disdain it, dog. All in all, self-effacing presentation, modesty, tact are all right, all too uncommon, and all for the best. But. . .dog? Dog! How is it that suddenly all males under 25---well, maybe 35---are referring to one another as "dog?" Yes, these males often have much in common with canines, from public urination to wanton fornication (don't believe it?---you haven't seen "Extreme Dating.") But. . .dog? It seems to have all but replaced "dude," which is certainly not a bad thing, dude. But. . .dog? In the '50s, it was "cat," which the Czar rather liked. Dog in human context not only degrades humans, implying approval of bestial behavior, but more important, it degrades dogs. A.
        BLINKERED---This one came from nowhere, spreading as fast as SARS but with even less containment. Every pundit and commentator is now scrawling and spewing "blinkered," as if it is no more unusual than saying "cat" or "weapons of mass destruction." Such fad-words are grabbed up like dropped biscuits by every hound in the pundit pack. Using them conveys membership in the Secret Society of Self-Important Soothsayers; they are cachet in the journalism fraternity. Blinkered? It's fun to say, sounds clever, indicates nothing extraordinary, yet suggests vocabularial sophistication. Of course, it means un-seeing, unknowing; having a limited scope (as in a horse with blinkers)---which, coincidentally, also describes users of the word, "blinkered." A, P.
        SUNSET---The Czar loves sunsets, although they have acquired a bit more poignancy as he has reached middle age. Still, this has not aided his dismay at finding this very common yet unassailably poetic noun kidnapped by corporate types for dull, gray purpose---as a functional verb! Yes, "to sunset" has risen in Lingo Land! As in "the bill will sunset in November" and "our program will sunset upon completion of the new data-base." Sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the coporate decisions. . .It means, roughly. . .end. Finish. Why, one wonders, must bureaucraps resort to clumsily humiliating such lovely words as "sunset?" Probably the same reason commentators say "blinkered." Let this use of "sunset" set.
A, P, CP.
        PITCH-PERFECT---It was bad enough when things were just "perfect." Meet you at three o'clock in the hobo jungle? Perfect! Getting a tummy-tuck? Perfect! Got the Jello and Metamusil? Perfect! Suddenly, everything is pitch-perfect. TV Weathermannequins are particular offenders here, repeatedly intoning "the weather is pitch-perfect," having added this to their arsenal of  pleasantries. Hey, first of all, pitch is seldom perfect---Eric Gagne and Pierre Boulez notwithstanding. Second of all, well, there is no second of all. "Pitch-perfect" is as phoney as the voice of a telemarketer. Pitch pitch-perfect. A, P, CP.
        UNHELPFUL---This is the Czar's favorite Donald Rumsfeld euphemism. The Defense Secretary (didn't they try to change that to "Secretary of War?") is a scion of subtlety, a marvel of muted language, an avatar of a-confrontation. When he disagrees with a person or nation or tyrant, he remarks that this person or nation or tyrant is simply "unhelpful." Not destoying those WMD? You're "unhelpful." This is the kind of gentle reprimand a child would expect just before being told to do a "time-out." One suspects the secretary has more blunt language in mind. T.
        CHILLING REMINDER---TV Newsmannequins, take heed! "Chilling reminder" is not good newswriting---it is cold cliché. For that matter, so is "chilling." It is the latest word you have beaten to Lingo death---joining "emotional" ("It was an emotional day for the families of 2,000 relatives who fell into a meat grinder. . .") in the Lingo Home for Abused Verbiage. Chill "chilling." T. (Thanks to reader Dick Sherman.)
        CHILL---This has always sounded stooopid to the Czar, but was overlooked as harmless-to-amusing child slang. Even when it became epidemic in college campuses around the world, aided by e-mail, "chill" and "chillin'" seemed innocuous enough. But now that you hear Lingo Elders saying it in place of "relaxing," "taking it easy," or simply doing very little, it is time to sound the alarm. The last straw was a middle-aged woman caller to Jim Rome who committed the initial atrocity of saying "what up." It's old, folks---like you. From mouths older than 30, it sounds as affected and contrived as "Daddy-O." Chill chill. T, A., CP.
        TECTONIC SHIFT---The pretentiousness of this expression is earthshaking. It just fractures the Czar. Think   of all the energy it takes to move your mouth around and create all the syllables and sounds in "tectonic shift." If you're a geologist, great. If not, why are you saying this? There has been a virtual tectonic shift in thinking on this issue. . .Oh, come on. You TV punditmannequins don't have the faintest idea what "tectonic" actually means---except that it refers to enormous land masses. Guess O' Reilly and George Will got tired of saying "sea change," so they switched to the landlubbing equivalent. T, P, CP.
        REELITOR---Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Webster's will soon probably throw in the towel and just spell it this way. What else can they do, considering how many millions of citizens are incapable of pronouncing "realtor." (These are the same people, the Czar has noticed who are incapable of pronouncing "ing" at the ends of words, instead producing a sound close to "eeeen.") What can you say? It's reelitorality. W, CP. (Thanks to reader Dick Sherman.)
        HAMMUHGER---Speakers of "Reelitor" frequently are heard to say they want a "hammuhger." Perhaps their speech is driven by a subconscious urge to return to early childhood, when malformed dipthongs and clogged consonants were just cute. Count the times you hear people correctly pronounce "hamburger," and you will not count far. Catch up to ham-burger, bun-brains. W, CP.
        SOFTENED UP---Yes, militar-ese has its place, and purpose, but some of the terms beg to be court-martialed, beginning with the hideous "collateral damage." Not far behind is "soften up," as in "soften up the enemy"---meaning to kill. You soften up members of an opposing force in order to invade and conquer, or otherwise get a leg up on the situation---by killing. Yes, bullets and bombs really do soften up flesh and bone. . .A.
        MORE IMPORTANTLY---This is used by people trying to sound more important. More important, it is wrong. Rewrite the preceding sentence with "more importantly," and the meaning changes to "It is more importantly wrong." Yes, there are more important Lingo problems than "more importantly," but not many as common. W.
       NO PROBLEM---A problematic Lingo perennial that bears revisting from time to time. Friends, considering the number of times you hear "no problem" during the course of a day, you would think there were. . .no problems. When and how did "no problem" become a substitute for "yes," "okay," "certainly," "glad to," "you bet," and "mm-hm?" The Czar thinks it coincided with the fantastic increase in problems pervading all aspects of life, which dates roughly to the beginning of radio therapists. Suddenly, back in the '70s, countless millions of peaceable, happy, uncomplicated citizens turned on their radios and realized that their lives were just nothing but problems, problems, problems! So it became a therapeutic relief to speak the words, "no problem," no matter how trivial the matter at hand. Can I pick up my toenail clippings? No problem! Would I hand you the MDG Malt Liquor "Tall Boy?" No problem! Extreme Makoever? No problem! Guess there is no solving "no problem." T, A, CP. (Thanks to reader Damon Wolf.)
        -AHOLIC---Alcoholic, workaholic, chocoholic, sleepaholic, sexaholic, fruitcakeaholic, Oprah-holic. . .The Czar is suffering from the suffuse presence of this fake suffix. This stopped being clever roughly one hour after it was first improvised. But then, people are cliché-aholics. T, A, CP.
        All you dogs have yourselves a pitch-perfect Lingo Day.

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