Excessively Distorted Language
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 94 16:18:03 PST
Subject: Excessively Distorted Language
FROM THE GUARDIAN WEEKLY, January 9 1994
David Rowan presents the Excessively Distorted Language Awards for 1993
'There is Usually a word for it'
Native Californian Political Correctness Award
RUNNER UP: Santa Cruz city council, which debated a motion to outlaw
"lookism", the practice of judging people by their looks, on the basis that
some faced discrimination because they were "cosmetically challenged".
WINNER: the Los angeles Times, which banned words such as 'crazy', 'holy
rollers', 'babe', 'queer' and 'ghetto'. This last decision caused some
problem for a Washington Post reporter, keen to discuss the film White men
Can't Jump but careful to retitle it 'There May Be Anthropological
Differences That Account For Variation in Personal Vertical Lift, Though
These Do Not of Course Imply the Kinetic Inferiority of One Ethnic Group
Camille Paglia Award for Verbal Pomposity
To Camille Paglia whose answering machine message goes like this: "You have
reached the voicemail line of Professor Camille Paglia. Due to her pressing
obligations as a teacher and scholar, Professor Paglia cannot personally
return calls. Do not send faxes: Professor Paglia does not accept them. All
packages are opened and inspected by the staff. Unsolicited materials
without return postage may be automatically discarded. Urgent messges may
be left on the tape to be reviewed by the staff. If you do not receive a
reply to your letter or call, please assume that Profesor Paglia is not
interested in your proposal ..."
Economical With The Actualite` Euphemism Award
RUNNER-UP: General Motors, whose early-retirement programme--in true
job-seeker's allowance mode--is known as "special accelerated attrition".
WINNER: Stephen Pollard, lawyer for the MP George Foulkes, who was found
with a rather high level of alcohol in his blood. Mr Pollard said that his
client had been at a whisky party "as befits an MP concerned with the
Roger Levitt Award For Openness in The City
To those market analysts who decided it was just too awkward being seen
making "sell" recommendations on certain stocks. So they decided that "sell"
should officially be re-named "hold" and then "strong hold" when the masses
got wind of what they meant. Finally they decided that, regarding dodgy
shares, they'd now be "aggressively neutral".
Seriously Lost in Translation Award
WINNER: the Black Dyke Mills brass band, celebrated in Yorkshire since 1815,
and due to play Carnegie Hall, New York, last year. Until the hall detected
that "black" and "dyke" might offend both the race and gay lobbies in one
and suggested re-naming it the British Mills Brass Band - "a national
insult, an outrageous suggestion ...".
Ronnie Kray Award For East-End Cultural Enrichment
To Mohammed Ali Abdulslarmov, a 23 year-old Russian studying at Nottingham
University, who called upon to translate (sic) when an elderly Russian
patient had trouble breathing. "He has run out of his breath climbing the
old apples and pears," the student told doctors, "and he doesn't know where
they've put his whistle and flute."
Mohammed, it transpired, had concluded that Cockney slang was the backbone
of nineties English, having learned most of it from watching Only Fools And
Horses and Minder.
© 1994 Peter Langston