Sunday, September 17, 2006

Weasel words update ...

... and let's kick off with one I considered giving an entire post to itself:

Red-blooded male to mean 'Can't keep it in his pants and doesn't give a rat's who gets hurt'.

And now some more contributions from discriminating commenters:

address and not an envelope in sight

Aussie icon -- see susoz here for details

conquering as applied to mountains; the implication here is that the landscape is your enemy and must be bested. A great deal of second-wave feminist critique addressed itself to engaged with was about the idea of a feminised landscape and masculinist discourse of exploration being couched in implicitly gendered, if not overtly sexual, terms.

desperate bid for...


get some traction as applied to anything but a bogged-in-the-sand/mud situation


intertextualising esp. when incorrectly used, but 'intertextualise' even in the correct sense is a little bit on the nose as well. I would however go to the wall for 'intertextual'.

issues redux, when specifically used as a euphemism for 'problems'

losing his/her battle with cancer which constructs the processes of one's own body as somehow the Other, an enemy.

obligate -- what's wrong with 'oblige'?

passionate as business-speak, as in 'We are passionate about our clients', a sentence guaranteed to frighten even the most phlegmatic.

stay on task


they died doing what they loved -- someone somewhere (Crikey? Larvatus Prodeo?) commented after the death of Peter Brock so quickly after that of Steve Irwin (and I'd just like to point out here that the last car Brock had been driving before the one that spun out from under him was called a Stingray; cue X-file music) that Australians had better all stop doing what they love immediately, as it is clearly bad for our health.

(triple) benchmarking -- I can't even begin to imagine what this means. I've always thought 'benchmark' was a stupid word all by itself, but now that it's been verbed (and tripled, apparently) it has become completely meaningless.

More words we like:





FXH said...

People always "bravely" "fight" "battle" cancer with a "positive attitude" and "refuse to give in" even though it's not shown to make any difference.

But one "suffers" from mental illness. And one "endures" the media.

shula said...

For me it's more about losing in the battle with cancer thing. How about the fact that they stayed alive as long as they did? How is that a loss? And such a cliche, people say it because they're too lazy to make something up themselves. Makes me crazy every time I hear it.

I love the word 'dumpling'. I'd eat a red-blooded weasel, if someone could convince me it was a dumpling.

Lucy Sussex said...

I just had a go at Hachette Livre for saying they were passionate about book X, which they then compared to the Brontes. Said after that I fully expected a stinker...
And if you really want to annoy someone who has just dropped 'intertextualise' ever-so-idly into the conversation, tell them the synonym is 'fan fiction'.

BK said...

has anyone else noticed (while we're in a morbid mood) that all academic suicides are 'brilliant'?

Armagnac Esq. said...

Largely agree, however with regards to conquering, I personally feel that 'discourse' can be one of the worst weasel words.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ah, but I'm a literary critic so that is just my professional vocaubulary speaking. I feel the same way about legal jargon (and medical, and most of all IT) as you do about lit crit jargon!

Helen said...

I liked (if that's the right word) the Leunig cartoon showing a corpse-littered landscape in Lebanon, with the caption:

"Well, at least he died doing what he loved."
"Yes... living peacefully and raising his family."

It just underlines the real meaninglessness of that cliche.

Galaxy said...

I hate the managerial-speak use of 'passionate' as well, to say nothing of its use by Australian Idol auditionees.

For me, 'address' as in 'mode of address' is akin to PC's use of 'discourse'. I use that one too, in a Cultural Studies way.

I'm fond of 'cicatrice'.

A bit off topic, but I had a nice moment today when reading an essay. The student wrote 'ethically diverse', when she meant to say 'ethnically diverse'. I've been thinking about the ethically diverse character of Heartbreak High ever since.

comicstriphero said...

How about 'oversighting', for when you just couldn't be bothered overseeing things?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Closely related to undersighting is the opposite of overview, as in 'I think I'm underviewing this.'

I too love cicatrice. I thought for years that it was something to do with cockroaches, and to this day have not entirely disburdened myself of this notion.

Shula, that recipe for golden syrup dumplings over at your place is TO DIE FOR. I remember your dad's column, too.

Georg said...

Another one from the IT world: deliverables. you know, those things we actually have to do. Closely related to 'outcomes' I believe.

Amanda said...

Mark Vaile introduced a new word to me last night: catalyising.

"It will have a catalysing influence in precipitating an outcome, eventually."

Pavlov's Cat said...

If I remember my high school science correctly, this one is rather clever in one respect. In its literal meaning, doesn't a catalyst produce (in some cases) precipitation?

Georg said...

Sort of related but this is quite good: Truth in advertising

BK said...

A catalyst is something that aids or enhances a reaction but does not itself take part as a substrate or product (i.e. it doesn't get used up) in that reaction.

'Precipitation' of course is either rain (etc.) or a foul mess in the bottom of a test tube.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Yes, I was thinking of reaction enhancement followed by foul mess etc.

shula said...

You remember Dad's column? Wow! I lost more than one job over that column. People always thought I must be a right wing plant, no matter how heartily I sang from the Red Song Book. So much for a career in the unions. Never mind.

So glad you liked the dumplings (mmmm, dumplings). Cookery the Australian Way. Bet you remember that, too.

hasarder said...

'They died doing what they loved' is one of my most hated phrases.

It seems to ignore how they died, or imply that they loved dying.

It always makes me think of that poor kid who was eaten by a shark a couple of years ago at West Beach. Apparently he loved being ripped to shreds by a shark, because that's what he was doing when he died...

I've begged my Partner not to let anyone use that phrase about me when I die.

Miss Tickle said...

I've always considered an "oversight" as a bad thing, like you weren't doing it very well... so I get a bit nervous when people say they expect someone to provide some "oversight" on a project...

Nige said...

As a scientist who now works in marketing ... as a writer, I have a ton of these:

Spend (as a noun)
Run it by me (without Nikes)
Low revenue generators (meaning senior managers)
Action (as a verb, a noun AND as an adjective [see below])
Action point (something that needs to be done)
Key opinion leader (a doctor)
Strategic (when used to describe just about anything, for instance "strategic coffee procurement" to mean "getting a brew")
Procurement (as a verb to mean buying stuff and as a noun to mean a whole department of bastards)
Impact (need I say more on that one)
Pharmacokinetics (no, the drug has pharmacokinetic characteristics, lazy boy)
I could go on forever. So I'll stop.

BK said...

Strategic (when used to describe just about anything, for instance "strategic coffee procurement" to mean "getting a brew")

Bloody marketeers. That is so obviously a tactical manoeuvre.

strategic coffee procurement is choosing which poor bastard has to go get the beans and then carry the can for selecting the wrong type.

Ariel said...

Here's a good 'strategic' one I just heard: 'Strategically realigned' as a euphemism for a company takeover.

eg. 'Fairfax was strategically realigned with PBL after the new cross-media ownership laws were passed'.

ThirdCat said...

I just remembered the worsest of them all: drill down. When there is no mine involved.

BK said...

The Monash gazette has its tongue firmly in cheek with

I am confident that we can brand impactful funtionalities and seize collaborative deliverables from this partnership

(via Snitch)