News Team Current issue History Online Support Download Forum @Pouet

01 - 02 - SE - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

Alive 9
Speaking Weasel!

 Or "Which fool allowed them the use of words?!"

Communication  through  language is one of the things that  makes  humanity,
well,  human.  A large part of our success as a species has been put down to
the  ability to communicate abstract and very complex ideas,  using language
as the tool of choice.

But it is not only humans who are taking great steps with language.  Lately,
many  varied offshoots and mutations of the weasel family are joining in  to
further their own twisted ends!  These don't look a lot like weasels, but go
under confusing names such as "politican",  "public relations guru", "(Real)
estate agent" etc.  We now write about some of the more amusing and annoying
of their attempts to make a dog-erm weasel's breakfast of the spoken word!

"Collateral  Damage" - Was the Vietnam-speak phrase used to gloss  over  the
U.S.  military's  latest "Oops we did it again" excesses during the  1960's.
This  tended  to  translate back then,  to watching a screaming  naked  girl
struggling  to adapt to life with a napalm undercoat.  People tended to  see
through  this  one pretty quickly.  The military have a tendency to talk  in
acronyms,  which may be a dual attempt to save time and hide the full truth!
(Trivia note,  nothing to do with the main thrust of this article,  but here
goes:- "Military intelligence, now there's a contradiction in terms!" - That
came  from around that time as well.  You will find that many cliches  start
off by being very witty phrases when they are first used.  It is the popular
over-use  that turns it into a cliche.  Or it might be something to do  with
the mysterious workings of organised chaos!)

"Partnership"  -  A  newish term which crops up with any  local  or  central
government initiative which they are bursting to show off.  'Partnership' in
that  context  is used to imply that a willing consent has been given  by  a
deleriously grateful public,  which isn't really there.  How many times have
you  been  greeted with the a prissy little notice along the lines  of  "The
Bollockshire Safety Camera Partnership sponsored by Arsewipe Council",  just
before you get a very expensive photo taken by one of their lovely  roadside
cameras!  To take 'partnership' to the ridiculous darkside extreme,  why not
have  "The  US  Forces  Iraqi torture prison  partnership."  After  all,  it
couldn't happen without the victims playing *their* part as well!

(By  the  way,  it  should  be  'speed  camera',  please  don't  insult  our
intelligence  with this 'safety camera' pap!  As long as you are within  the
speed  limit,  you could go through the hot zone of a speed camera  skidding
sideways,  turned  over  on your car roof,  with bald tyres,  no tax,  MOT or
insurance,  and  on  the wrong side of the road straight into the path of  a
terrified  screaming  person  coming the other way,  and  the  bloody  thing
wouldn't react to this gross breach of road safety!)

"Traffic-calming" - Now I'm making a promise to you all, I'm not going to go
into Daily Mail reader rant mode here.  As in "If it wasn't for the European
Union  and the evil Brussels eurocrats,  we wouldn't have any of these speed
humps!"  However,  that said "traffic calming",  in the context in how it is
currently  applied,  is  totally  oxymoronic.  There  is a strange  lack  of
council-funded herbal tea,  wind-chimes, and Tibetan-style soothing chanting
to  aid me home in the stressful rush-hour.  No whale-birthing music  spills
forth  from  strategically  placed loudpspeakers in the street  to  ease  my
shattered  sense  of  well-being.   Instead,   here's  a  personal  note  to
Northampton Borough Council.  "Dear wankers,  if you are short of money, why
don't you stop complaining and use the speed-humps in the street to fill  in
the potholes!"

The  discipline of economics seems to have a weaselish tendency too.  To  be
fair,  it  can  be  said that their terminology is designed to  nullify  the
impact  of  the  true meaning of what is said,  rather than setting  out  to
deceive  outright.  You  can  tell that economists live far  away  from  the
consequences  of their words.  The calm and bland term "Anticipated downturn
in the economic cycle fourth quarter",  really means "Hi there all you lucky
people living on the margins of solvency, time to tell the kids that they're
not getting any Xmas presents!  And there won't be a lot to eat either!  And
what you do get to eat won't be too great in the first place.."

Politicians,  now  can the public get to a state where they are too wise  to
what  is going on?!  It is at the state now,  where even routine actions are
questioned for a shady hidden agenda,  probably where none exists. They only
have  themselves to blame though.  I'm struggling to think of the last  time
that  any of our leaders soul-searched to see if they were really doing  the
'right' thing? I sort of remember a dude called Jimmy Carter in America, who
tried to in the post Nixon/Vietnam era, but he was squashed by all the other
bastards  who  took contrition and openness as weakness.  Since  then,  that
"mistake"  has not been repeated,  although you sense that America might  be
due  to  say a big "Sorry" to the world for the presidency of  George  Dubya

Co-sponsors for the 'kick a reasonable man when he's down' campaign, and the
subsequent Reagan presidency! Thanks guys! We're glad you're both dead!

Rather  than attempt the outright and outrageous big lie,  politicians these
days tend to try to pull a big woolly blanket of meaningless platitudes down
over  people's questioning faces in lieu of the facts.  "Big picture getting
better,  your  awkward  question irrelevant,  reassuring phrases designed to
avoid giving information,  you media people always have it in for us, if you
could just stop asking questions and listen, big picture getting better (and
so on)...."

And they wonder why people aren't interested in politics any more!

And  now we are onto the shameless fools who prostitute their small  talents
in  the world of corporate p.r.  The examples are too many to include in  an
article  of  this limited scope,  but I'd like to spend a little time  on  a
personal favourite, the corporate 'Strapline'. This is a phrase or soundbite
designed to sum up that companies ethos and operating philosophy in a  pithy
punchy sentence.  The aim being,  of course, to induce an ill-deserved sense
of  well-being in that company,  which is a rampant money making machine  in
reality.  Macdonalds are famous for the catchphrase "I'm lovin' it!" (We are
pelted with a hail of indignant cries and half-eaten Big Mac's from our food
critic  audience.)  I think Microsoft should have a  strapline  too.  Theirs
would  go something a bit like "We're killing computing for fun!" (Spot  the
intentional double meaning there!)

Finally, a quick look at the ever interesting subject of work and the people
that do it, or suddenly not doing it, as the case may be.

The  original  term  "Getting the sack" comes from  the  18th  century.  You
immediately think of a servant being handed his meagre possessions in a bag.
Since  then,  the  art of telling people that they are no longer wanted  has
moved  on  in  leaps  and bounds.  We are familiar with  "given  the  push",
"culling", "downsizing", and the sinister and soviet sounding "liquidating a

Then  there are the government ministers who "wish to spend more  time  with
their  family."  Many  academics suddenly go  off  to  "pursue  long-delayed
individual projects." The weaselspeak dictionary can add a couple of  really
new ones. The phrase "Accordion management" could have come from the central
school  of management weasel-speak.  It is used to describe the quick growth
and shrinking of a workforce by hiring and firing in large amounts.

And  now we are right up to the minute with large numbers of unwanted  civil
servants shortly to be "released" in a government efficiency drive.  Hang on
a minute, "releasing"? Isn't that what you do with Elsa the cuddly lion cub,
or Willy the freed whale!  It's another damn euphemism, intended to soften a
heavy  blow,  but which actually makes things worse by the sheer cynicism of
the exercise. This is language used as an edged weapon!

So  we  return  to the still unanswered question at  the  beginning  of  the
article, which fool allowed them the use of words?!

Written by CiH for Alive Mag, May '05, with apologies to actual weasels, who
are  okay  really and don't deserve to be tainted by  association  with  the
pseudo-human variety.

Alive 9