Doublespeak for fun

Today in my linguistics course we talked about classic scientific writing. You know…passive voice nominalized noun strings if you’re doing it correctly. Actually, our professor admitted that in some circles noun strings are called “noun banging,” but we decided to go with the less offensive name.

Every profession has a list of great jargons in their repertoire. Apparently a group of educators who called themselves the Committee on Public Doublespeak back in the 70s thought they could wipe out what they thought was an unhealthy use of jargon by “mocking it to death” as my professor put it.

They made lists.

Take business for example. These guys created a list of jargons you might hear in any self-respecting business class and placed them in three rows like so:

1. integrated                   management                   options                              organizational                flexibility

3. systemized                 monitored                         capability

4. parallel                       reciprocal                          mobility

5. functional                  digital                                programming

6. responsive                 logistical                           concept

7. optional                     transitional                      time-phase

8. synchronized           incremental                      projection

9. compatible                policy                                 contingency

Take one word from each of the three columns, say them together and you sound like a smart person! Everyone thinks “this guy must know what the hell he’s talking about. I won’t question his authority.” Try it. It’s a blast!

I personally like total organizational flexibility because it describes my room at any point in time. I’m especially flexible with my organization during exam week.

Integrated reciprocal contingency is another favorite. No idea what it means, sounds great though, and that’s just the point. Drop that phrase around friends and see what you can get away with. You may have friends that will just smile and nod at you. Those are fun people. You can tell them anything.

What the Doublespeak Committee attempted to do was limit the jargon strings by proving how ridiculous it can be next to clear, precise language. (I’m guessing this was in anticipation of the year 1984). But it backfired on them. Is it that we don’t want to use clear language when we could be sounding smart and professional by tossing around key words? Or is it the case that sometimes these are the concise terms that are most helpful? This may be an intriguing pedagogical dilemma, but I’m not get into that.

I just think they’re fun and wanted to share.

Speaking of pedagogy, here’s another list for my teacher friends:

1. curricular                research                    project

2. behavioral              stimulation              validation

3. programmed          implementation      assessment

4. cognitive                 examination            objectives

5. instructional         participation            resources

6. integrated               syllabus                     concept

7. audio-visual          innovation                module

8. interdisciplinary  communication       subsystems

9. multi-media           learning                    evaluation

*Remember to use one word from each column for best effect.