Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 12 17:45:04 UTC 2010

  [Comments below]

On 10/12/2010 10:15 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> I didn't mean to imply that she was trying to obscure the facts, merely that
> her familiarity with the idiom "net-net" had impaired her ability to speak
> lucidly to the average voter - and even to the average news anchor.

I am not convinced of her ability to speak lucidly even when she's not
using supposed jargon.

Her record at HP was only one of the knocks against her from the
opposition. Her ability to deliver a consistent, lucid message was
another. (And there are quite a few more, but I am not going into
politics here.)

On 10/12/2010 10:12 AM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> Here is a definition from a 1997 book, "Word smart for business: cultivating
> a six-figure vocabulary":
> The absolute bottom line, or end result. It's even more bottom line than
> just net.

This makes sense to me only in the context of an attempt to
obfuscate--it's a more bottom line than a regular bottom line. Sounds
like 110% BS to me. This is not a complaint against Dan, but rather
against the authors of the book. They desire to create a social club
where everyone speaks the same obfuscatory language.

On 10/12/2010 10:39 AM, Baker, John wrote:
>          It sounds more like a $1.98 vocabulary to me.  From this
> example, "Word smart for business" apparently endorses the practice of
> using high-falutin terms that the speaker doesn't understand and that
> have no concrete meaning in context.

This sounds exactly right.

On 10/12/2010 11:30 AM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> Business people know what she means by her four-word sentence.

See "club" above. And "business people" are not her audience. The
problem here is that either she is not interested in code-switching for
different audiences or she's incapable. It's hard to tell even from the
fact that she huffed when she had to explain it.

On a different note, it is quite common for "experts" to "forget" to
explain basic terminology to "novices". This is pretty standard cog-sci
stuff. For example, it is common to find confusing language on
worksheets passed out by less experienced college instructors who may
well be brilliant in their fields. Depending how much time they spent
out in the "real world", the ratio of jargon in their speech may be
quite high. This does not mean that they are necessarily aware of the


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list