The Rip Post                                Riposte Archive


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Oct. 26, 2005

       What is more cripplingly ironic than
Madonna’s recent condemnation of television as a destructive waste of life? Why, it’s human beings’ use of language, of course. Here the pawing beasts have access to all manner of dictionary, encyclopedia, even Internet wikipedias, yet they insist on grunting and snorting.
         Thank goodness for the Lingo Czar, ever present to irk and annoy and flail impotently at the everday babble of everyday rabble.
          Accordingly, noble 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).
         SO CUUUUUUUUUTE---When the Czar hears a woman having a “so cuuuuuute” fit, he steers a wide berth---or goes the other way---much as one might when faced with a person frothing at the mouth. When women go into “so cuuuuuuuuute” mode, they are dangerous. The rest of the world recedes, dies away, possibly disappears. They hear nothing. They see nothing. Nothing, except the baby/kitten/doggie/stuffed toy before them. There could be a fire, or a bomb, or even Oprah Winfrey, and they would not notice. All the maternal hormone cylinders are firing at warp-speed. They are silly with deranged brain chemistry. They do not know time, birth or death. They exist only in that moment when presented with something innocent looking. Want to talk politics? You might as well drive backwards on a freeway. Want to ask oh, if they would like to browse in a bookshop, or if it looks like rain? Are you nuts? The woman is not even there, having been temporarily supplanted by another creature altogether, one for whom you and this earthly realm are parenthetical, a footnote. All program dials are tuned to “reproduce.” And what’s so goddamn cuuuuuuuuute about babies, anyhow? They look like tiny bald drunks. They drool. They excrete. They babble and shriek. And all too soon, they grow into very objectionable adults. Some of whom will say, “so cuuuuuuuuuuuute!” T, A, CP.
          OR NOT---Hey, just tack it on to the end of any tacky sentence, and you’re covered! Yes, make any assertion you like, no matter how tentative, and if you do not get instant validation from your listener, merely add a sharp “or not,” maybe with a quick laugh, to add an extra touch of benign. God help you if you make a concerted statement about something. Can’t have that! Why, it could upset your writers’group/ coffee klatch/Pilates instructor. Or not. Or not. T, A, CP.
          VI-LENT---Formerly known as “violent,” this term has been whittled down to two syllables by the great grotesque gaggle of TeeVee Newsgorgons. There they are, apparently existing only from the waist up, with their happy-dog eyeballs and weird quasi-shouting siren-song narration, mutilating syntax the way Judy Miller mutilated the New York Times’s credibility. Consider alone how the verb, “to be,” as His Wordliness pointed out in a previous report, is being wiped away by these lingo lacerators; all sentences are now fragments spoken in half-present-progressive, as in “The president meeting with reporters today. . .” Genoverbicide! Poor vi-o-lent, while not as lovely a word as vi-o-let, has just as many syllables. Or it did, before slavering TeeVee newsmonsters sunk their fangs into its fetlocks, and ripped out its heart. “O” no. W, CP.
          VALUE---Lyndon Johnson took a good swipe at “value” years ago, attempting to start a trend toward pronouncing it “val-yuh.” Fortunately, this did not spread beyond Texas and much the south, where language was long ago given up for dead. Now the real terrorists of society---Corporatemannequins who systematically murder humanity, individuality, initiative, and replace it with fear-based Orwellian team-ethos---have zeroed in on “value.” It no longer means “something of worth.” It means whatever the Corporate Corpse in charge wants it to mean. It’s a fill-in-the-blank manipulation device. Yes, it sounds well and good when Corporate Corpse says “we want to give value to our clients,” but what is this “value?” Why, whatever Corpse wishes---which is usually a well-kept secret, just to keep Corporate Cogs guessing! What fun! Thus, when Corporate Cog offers something that Corporate Corpse doesn’t like, it does not have the right. . . “value.” Consider what Amanda Bennett, editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, said when she was told to implement massive cuts and layoffs: "This is a chance to hold everything up to the light and say, 'What value does this give to the readers?' " Get the game? As if cutting 15 percent of her staff can give something of “value” to readers. Of course, given the state of journalism. . .A, CP.
          I INVITE YOU/WE INVITE YOU---This is the new, gentle, politically correct way of enticing people into listening to your radio show or watching your TeeVee program. Instead of “be sure and tune in,” or “join us” or “don’t miss” or “see you at. . .”, many hosts are saying “We invite you.” Well, isn’t that sweet! We invite you to spend part of your life doing nothing but listening to/watching us! When you could be oh, studying brain surgery, or writing a poem, or planting a tree---instead, why don’t you accept that invitation to sit! We invite you to grow that waist and hind to gargantuan All-American proportion! We invite you to accept the illusion that you are doing something, or having an experience, when you are really having very little experience at all! Certain hosts have gone invite-you crazy. We invite you to listen. . .we invite your calls. . .we invite you to join us. . .we invite you to pledge $100. . .we invite you to take a flying ---- at the mooooooon. . .It’s unctuous, and fake. “We invite you” suggests that you are being included in something pretty nifty---yes, you are personally being invited to turn on on the tube and stare at billionare-ess Oprah Winfrey. The Czar invites “we invite you” to accept an invitation to take a flying ---- at the moooooon. A, P, CP.
          CHICK LIT/CHICK FLICK---Pardon the Czar a moment. (Get me the royal lingo bucket, please. Oooooooffflooopbbogpfh fpshsssss! Ah, that’s better.) There is something so insidious here. These sorts of expressions are what dullard mainstream folk consider innocuous hipspeak, unaware that they feed and nurture the great Dumbing Down Marketing Machinery. The Czar recalls recoiling when a female editor once chirped “Chick flick, chick flick” at the mention of a particular film. Editrix did not realize that this both confirmed and embraced the marketing design of the film, neglecting altogether as first priority whether the film was. . .good. And many of the ninnies who reflexively chant these little cutesy catch-phrases consider themselves to be egalitarians---who should therefore eschew such sexually confining tags as “chick flick.” Um. . .are there no roosters who enjoy “chick flicks” or “chick lit(erature?”) So the implication seems to be that movies or books which feature lots of women being bitchy or weepy or catty or immersed in melodramatic entanglements (this seems to be the substance of most “chick lit” and “chick flicks”) are perfectly fine for women, even if they are not very sophisticated fare. Gee, how degrading to. . .chicks. T, A, P, CP.
           DIDN’T/ DINT---The Czar has harped on this before, but the music was not catchy enough. How is it that the prevailing pronunciation of “didn’t” (should be DID-nt) has become “dih-dint?” Well, no doubt the same way that apostrophes are now employed willy-nilly, like decorative abstraction, and quotation marks are used for emphasis. Baffled, perplexed, vexed, befuddled, stumped, and otherwise frightened by the little apostrophe in “didn’t,” young people resorted to ignoring it and imagining the syllabic divider slash as coming between the “i” and the “d.” But how is it that teachers didn’t correct dih-dint? Why didn’t they undo what these kids did? Answer: because most of the ditzy dunderheads on TeeVee don’t say “didn’t” anymore either. And when they’re not saying dih-dint, they are making it easier on themselves by eliminating a syllable, and just scaling things down to “dint.” Listen: “dint” was fine for Ricky Ricardo, but very few of you play congas and sing “Cuban Pete,” so don’t do dint. Unless, of course, you are using dint by dint of its proper definition, which would help dint the damage done by dint. W, A, CP. 
          (SOMETHING) ROCKS---A Lingo Czar perennial, revisited here because it just will not erode. Of course, this is of the family of music-related declarations of approval, as in something “grooves.” The first time the Czar realized the term had been horrifically miscast was when he spotted “Dole Rocks” signs during the 1996 presidential election. Bob Dole might hawk Viagra, and he might have had a full face lift and a dye job on hair and eyebrows, but he definitely doesn’t “rock.” Then there was the very peculiar incident at a screening of the classic film, “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse” at the UCLA Film Archive, in which the Czar overheard actor John Cusack speak into his cell phone one of the most improbable sentences every concocted: “Yeah, Dr. Mabuse’s rockin’!” Mm-hmm. Of course, what Mr. Cusack was imparting was “the film is well along, and I’m enjoying it.” But to have spoken in this manner would have cast him as apart from the flock, which brings up the salient point here. Those who use this sort of infantile, sillyass language imagine they are being hip, when in fact they are being dullard conformists---much as is the case with those who pierce, tattoo, and dye in the interests of “individuality.” None of them “rock.” They all have “rocks” in their head. T, A.
          REVEAL---If this word meant “to turn something into calf steak again,” the Czar would not be faced with the current revealing problem. Thanks, of course, to that monument of sophisticated television entertainment, “Extreme Makeover,” “reveal” has been revealed to be a noun---which is quite a revelation. Yes, “it’s time for the reveal,” squawks hysterical TeeVee Hostmannequin. (For those of you who feed at troughs, the word should be “revealing.") This is all part of the peculiar extreme lingo makeover of turning nouns into verbs, and vice-versa, as in “efforting” and “referencing.” And if this is a revelation to you, it is suggested that perhaps you should not reveal this to anyone. W, A, CP.
          RECANIZE---If this word meant “to turn into a can again,” the Czar would not be faced with the current recognizable problem. While “recanize” can be recognized as “recognize,” it makes the speaker recognizable as a buffoon, or at minimum, a graduate of an L.A. City high school. One hears “recanize” spoken tirelessly by unidentified “witnesses” in TeeVee news, usually along the lines of “I seen the guy, but I dint recanize him.” To which one might respond, “was he a can in the first place?” Please endeavor to make words recognizable. W, CP.
          RENOWN---If this word meant “to turn into a noun again,” the Czar would not be faced with the current renowned problem. Along with many other renowned words, humans are forgetting how to use the word, “renown.” If you are renowned, you are a person of renown. Like Les Brown and his band of. Yet one hears many renowned TeeVee Newsmannequins flashing their choppers and saying “we have the renown (personage of choice) in studio today.” This is hardly surprising, seeing as TeeVee Newsmannequins are renowned for idiotic grammar and pronunciation. W.
          DIVA---Well, it used to be a perfectly good descriptor for operatic ladies of particular achievement. Perhaps as part of the spillover from the “Three Tenors’” popularizing of operatic arias, “diva” has been adopted by people who do not know a Figaro from a Fafnir. That is to say, most pop music “critics.” While one likes to see opera acquire new popularity, this use of “diva” is an unfortunate by-product. Every prancing, yapping jackass who opens his/her mouth in front of a microphone and claims to sing is now labeled a “diva.” Including Elton John, though in his case for less vocal reasons. But. . .Britney Spears. . .Gwen Stefani. . .divas? Cough. There is no putting this screeching cat back into the bag, which annoys the Czar, and probably Diva Zappa, as well. A, P, CP.
          CHECK IT OUT/CHECK OUT---Check it out/check out are descended from “check her out” and “check that out,” phrases uttered in direct and lascivious reference to the female figure. Websites are responsible, largely if not entirely, for having forced “check it out” into broader use, quickly warranting its admission into clichéland. Check out our website is probably spoken as often in one day in this country as "finding everything all right?" Oh, look, people, aren’t you tired of saying this? Hell, stupid question. How can one ask, in a country that utters the word, “cool,” more times per day than birds tweet, whether a populace is tired of speaking a particular phrase? Of course you’re not tired of saying “check it out!” Radio and TeeVee tell you to chant it, and you must obey. Besides, other words and terms are so. . .well, they require a little bit of mental work to find, right? Like “see” or “read” or “take a look at” or (gasp) “investigate.” But “check it out” is ever at the ready, poised and aimed for lingo launching. It has burrowed into your brains and has a vice-grip on your speech center. But try this, okay? Every time you start to say, “check it out,” just substitute “boogieboogie” instead, and see if it makes you want to break the habit. Let "check it out" check out. T, A, CP.
The Czar wishes you a lovely lingo day. Or not.
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