It Is Fundamentally True That The Terms Below Are In English

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It is Fundamentally True That the Terms Below Are in English
by Peter Zane as appeared in the NEW YORK TIMES on Sunday May 26, 1996
(page E7)

Why can't we all just get along? Maybe because we have no idea what
anyone else is saying.
After all, nobody's fired anymore; employees are selectively separated.
There are no more old people, but swelling ranks of the chronologically
gifted. The era of big government is over, but the Feds still spend $1.6
trillion a year.
In plain English, American is awash in double-speak and euphemisms.
Lawyers, spinmeisters, C.E.O.'s, and politicians are employing language as
a tool to further their own agendas rather than forthrightly communicate.
In high culture, impenetrable jargon has become so rife that art critics
and curators recently met in New York to discuss whether windbaggery is
eroding interest in contemporary art. And a New York University physicist
recently gained national attention when he duped a leading journal into
publishing a parody of its stultifying, buzzword-laden prose.
But take heart: As we struggle to decipher what we read and hear,
language purists are rushing to the rescue with books, newsletters, and Web
sites to serve as decoding rings of English. Here are exerpts.


THE QUARTERLY REVIEW OF DOUBLESPEAK has been publsihed by the NAtional
Council of Teachers of English since 1973. A few examples from the latest

EDUCATION: The Clark County, Nev., Board of Education has decreed that
... students who earn D's or below will be characterized not as borderline
passing or failing but as "emerging". Those earning A's will no longer be
commended for excellent work but will be told merely that they are
"extending", and those in between will not be described as doing adequate
or mediocre work but [that] they are "developing"

ADVERTISING: A TV commercial for an antacid called Pepsid AD shows a
daughter telling her mother that the drug works for nine hours. The mother
replies "Nine hours. That's all day." Apparently the mother sleeps for 15
hours in each 24-hour day.

GOVERNMENT: Yes indeed, let's be nice. Very, very, very nice! That's the
new politically correct watchword.Indeed, let us be so nice that we say
nothing negative about the Ku Klux Klan. And indeed, this is what the
county Board of Milkwaukee, Wis., has decided to do. No longer will the
phrase "hate groups" be used by the council to characterize groups such as
the Klan. The Klan and thier sidekicks are now officially referred to by
the county board as "unhappy groups"

LAW ENFORCEMENT: When some of the bullets fired by Phoenix, Ariz., police
at a a man brandishing a shotgun hit the door of a residential home, a
police spokesman responded that "to hit center mass all the time is not
realistic." In other words, "Sometimes we miss."


The Inuits have at least 27 words for snow because, well, they live on the
tundra. Given the business climate, it's not surprising that htere is an
even more extesnive vocabulary to describe getting fired. James H.
Kennedy, publisher of EXECUTIVE RECRUITERS NEWS, a trade magazine for
headhunters, compiles an ever-expanding list of terms used by the industry.
Here's the most recent:

Asked to resign
Carrer Assessnebt and Re-employment
Career Transition
Chemistry Change
Coerced Transition
Executive Cutting
Force Reduction
Indefinite Idline
Involuntary Separation
Job Separation
Let Go
Negotiated Departure
Personnel Surplus Reduction
Position Elimination
Premature Retirement
Redundancy Elimination
Requested Departure
RIF - Reduction in Force: "I was Riffed"
Selected Out
Selected Separated
Skill Mix Adjustment
Vocational Relocation
Workforce Adjustment
Workforce Imbalance Correction

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