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(July 13, 2005)

          The Lingo 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 judges.
          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 self-imposed silence).

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 think? A.

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 brain-battering 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 pronounced “AIR-uh-dite.” 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 web: 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.

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