...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Jargon hype.

There are some words that are so understated in such a...well, a self-righteous way, they constitute hype.

It was one of those "made possible by a grant from" announcements on an NPR show, from one of the fine foundations who pay the bills. They can't brag, or pitch for anything. They've got to sound high-toned and altruistic. They want their full credit, but they don't want to sound like they're exaggerating their importance. So what comes out is something like:

...a grant from the Flyshacker Foundation, committed to the creation of a just, equitable and sustainable society.
Well, who isn't, right? But wait a minute. Sustainable? Sustainable?

It's one of those words. It means, capable of being sustained. You know, like, How long can you hold your breath, Freddie? Is it sustainable? However, the word is now chockful of new meaning. I mean, this word has such baggage. It's a save-the-earth word. It carries the smell of green things and the sound of clear cold water. It's supposed to evoke an upwelling of hope and optimism. All this from a kind of stuffy, stumbly, grey word. Sustainable.

And, I'm sorry, folks, but coming from the mouth of that guy NPR has on the payroll whose only known job is to read the opening and closing credits identifying the checkwriters, the guy with the hydraulic diction and oleaginous voice, cleansed of human emotion...coming from this guy's Listerined larynx, this word evokes in me a rising wave of nausea. It's public radio, it's non-profit, it's altruistic, but it's hype.

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