Wednesday, March 09, 2005


~ You've heard it before. You hear it all the time. Also known as double-speak or babble, gobblygook is spoken in nearly all circles. You can hear it in the medical field. It is present in the workplace. But nowhere is it as prevalent as it is in law and government.
~ Texas Congressman Maury Maverick coined the word in 1944 in reference to prose of politicians that sounded like the senseless gobbling of turkeys.
~ You gotta love anything California, and the politics there are no exception. Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger gave us them gem: "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman." His predecessor, Gray Davis offered us this one, "My vision is to make (California) the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on earth in this state."
~ Semanticist Stuart Chase, defines gobblygook as "the practice of using two or three or ten words in the place of one, or using a five syllable word where a single syllable word would suffice." He cited as an example as not calling a spade a spade, but a manual excavating device. He also noted that the word now has been replaced with at this point in time.
~ Governors don't have the market cornered when it comes to double-speak. Then Presidential candidate John Kerry, when asked why he voted against a funding bill for the troops in Iraq, answered "I actually did vote for the eighty-seven billion before I voted against it."
~ When asked for his analysis of Iraq's cache of weapons of mass destruction, Donald Rumsfeld replied, "There are known knowns. These are things we know we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are some things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know." The reporters in attendance weren't the only ones scratching their heads over that one.
~ The trend to be politically correct is the current rage. Certain elements of PC can be seen in gobblygook. In the workplace you are not fired, but outplaced, dehired, deselected, down sized, assigned to a mobility pool, or placed in a career alternative enhancement program. Once called senior citizens or the elderly, they are seasoned, veteran, or chronologically experienced citizens.
~ A grave digger is an interment excavation expert. A manacurist is a nail technician. Cab or bus drivers are urban transportation specialists. A check out clerk is an associate scanning professional. A mechanic is an automotive internist. A paperboy is a media courier.
~ On the social scene, the poor are fiscal under achievers, or economically nonaffluent. A slum or ghetto is now called the inner city. A bum or a street oerson has become a non-goal-orientated member of society.
~ The products we use aren't exempt. Toilet paper is facial quality tissue. The term sliced is now portion controlled. Greeting cards are social expression products. A toothpick is an interdental stimulator. A girdle is a form persuader.
~ Gobblygookisms have even broached war. Torture is an interrogation technique. Overthrow is now a regime change. A prisoner of war is a detainee. Secret is classified. Retreat is redeployment. Peace is permanent pre-hostility. An invasion using paratroopers is now a predawn vertical insertion.
~ Perhaps my writing and your reading of this blog is and of itself a bunch of gobblygook!

Parts of the above are excepts from an article by Richard Lederer in the March 2005 issue of the AARP Bulletin. For mental challenges and on-line games go to:
And for some gobblygook Applachia style check out blue @

No. 72

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