Loose, Fast, Sloppy Thinking
August 16, 2009 by rtwsenior
My son has not yet taken up blogging but I encourage him to, because he keeps many journals going, filled with essays about his observations. Guess that runs in the family. The following is one of his essays, in which he is carrying on a family tradition started by his grandmother, my mother. She was an artist. He is an artist. She was a lifelong keen hawk on the useage of words and phrases. So is he. Both of those traits skipped over me, which probably means that they will show up again in a great-grandchild.
Anyway, here is a blog written by my son, Randy:
“It’s funny how new words become fashionable and suddenly you begin to encounter them all over the place: blogs, editorials, articles, interviews, etc. Here are a few current ones: I don’t remember encountering any of them, in their new guise, before two or three years ago, at most.
“Passion” – This is really a buzzword of the business world. It replaces “Excellence” as what everyone is supposed to be striving for; what they…
“Bring To The Table” – Another business cliche. Apparently, it’s no longer sufficient that an employee be competent, reliable and personable. He must also be passionate about Amalgamated Widget, and the general world of widgets, or whatever it is.
“To Unpack” – This word simply means to take a close and critical look at some idea, assumption, phrase, or statement. To lay out the underlying attitudes and structures that may not be initially apparent. “Unpacking” has a Leftist tinge. They often use it in the sense of exposing the hidden racism, or reason, in a given innocent or euphemistic expression from the Right. As in, “Let’s unpack that statement.”
“A heartbeat away from the Presidency.” has been used by the Lefties recently to depict the (supposedly) dire situation that a (supposedly unprepared) Sarah Palin would face if she was Vice President. I have heard this again and again. It’s like people can’t seem to put things in their own words. Can they not even vary it now and again? A “breath” away, maybe? But, they hear some phrase, like it, and then just parrot it back when called for.
“Disappointed” – Ex-President Bush may have started this when he remarked that he was “disappointed” that no WMDs were ever found in Iraq. People use it to replace “Unhappy that…” or “Sorry…” “It’s unfortunate that…” Disappointed often sounds not quite right.
“Issue” – is another one. In many cases it has replaced the word, “Problem.” So, we get such ludicrous offerings as, “We are having issues with the broadband connection.” (!!!!)
“Traction” – This one is everywhere now. “Getting Traction” means that the subject under discussion is starting to come into its own; is accomplishing its mission; is gaining ground, as it were. For example, “A concern about Global Warming has now gotten traction with the American public.” or “The proposed new law just couldn’t get any traction with citizens.”
“In harm’s way” – You see this a lot because of Iraq. Our soldiers (almost always referred to as “Troops,”) are often spoken of as being in harm’s way. Why not in danger, or described as in a potentially harmful situation, or in a place of risk?
“Platform” – As in a nation, China, India, being on a “manufacturing platform.” Why not a “center of industry?”
Here is some current slang that young people really, actually use:
“Hella” – meaning Extremely. Perhaps from helacious, or Hell of a…
“Rock” – to rock something is to sport it, to wear it. Especially some flashy, new, fun or sexy item of apparel.
“Woot” – an expression of enthusiasm, surprise, exclamation.
It’s also funny how certain phrases become stock and always trundled out. Prisoners always only ever “Rot” or “Languish” in jail…. SUVs always “Guzzle” gas; war always “Rages.” Everybody “Battles” cancer.”
I believe the use of words such as these to be a sign of loose, fast, sloppy thinking used by those who don’t have anything new to say. It’s often the journalists who are guilty of the worst of this usage. They swim in an ocean of media, so they get a lot of exposure to trendy writing and are often probably partial to it…always looking for what is short, dynamic and telegraphic.
Consequently, some magazine articles consist of little but strung together buzzwords, catch phrases, pop-culture references and canned concepts in what becomes almost like a series of Chinese ideograms. That is, if you don’t know the societal references, the article barely makes sense.”