Thursday, June 2, 2011


One of the things that happened in America with the rise of television networks is that regional accents, slang and usages began to disappear. Mass media was the same whether you lived in Manhattan, NY or Manhattan, KS. And over the decades a norm of language was established.

We no longer hear idiomatic descriptions like those of Senator Claghorn, a character on Fred Allen’s old radio show. If you’re speaking too much and saying too little, you’re unlikely to be told “your tongue’s wagging like a blind dog’s tail in a meat market.”

The internet, I think, has furthered our homogenization of language. People from all over the world quickly see (and learn) from many of the same sources. While there are literally billions of sources to chose from, my guess is that some binary version of the 80-20 law prevails and 80% of the world’s populace gets their blather from a handful of sites.

I draw this conclusion because I see the rapid disintegration of our language. Language that is divorced from meaning, that comes from on high and is inexplicable. Language that communicates nothing other than that “I, the speaker or writer ‘get it,’ and you, the dim-witted recipient or listener are unable to even understand what I get.”

As George Parker points out this morning, I defy anyone to explain this sentence by Google’s Eric Schmidt: “Facebook's done a number of things which I admire. It's the first generally available way of disambiguating identity.” Or this sentence that Bob Hoffman gagged on from Bonin Bough, Global Director of Digital and Social Media at PepsiCo.: “how much are we encouraging the continual learning from inside our staff about how to leverage these technologies with inside of their communications and engagement plans but as well as just for their own personal communications and internal communication with inside each other and from employee to employee.”

These sentences, like so many others we hear from worldwide vessels, are in no known language. Yet because such speech is everywhere, early adopters pick it up and propagate its meaninglessness. Like the Emperor with no clothes, very few people will stand up and call bullshit.

When I worked on IBM—a highly technical piece of business if there ever was one—I used to say I wasn’t in the advertising business I was in the translation business. My job was to take things that are hard to understand (because you don’t know the language) and break them into intelligible parts. A chair is a chair is a chair. It is never a ‘seating solution.’

Now, this all brings me to women’s asses. It occurs to me that these days we have three or four words that we use almost exclusively to describe the aforementioned. Booty. Bootay. Trunk (as in ‘junk in the trunk’) and, of course, ass.

Back when language was richer, was less homogenized we had many more and much more interesting words to choose from: backside, posterior, behind, hind-quarters, hinder, heinie, rear or rear-end, derrière, rump, aft, stern, poop, apple, caboose, cakes bottom, tail, trunk, arse, badonkadonk, biscuits, bum, buns, butt, can, cheeks, duff, fanny, hams, haunches, seat, sit-upon, tush, to name a few. Along the way, getting and spending, we have laid waste our powers.

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