Friday, October 12, 2007

Does this protagonist get a clothing allowance?

I’ve posted here, here and here about amateur crime-fiction sleuths with interesting professions, but Sarah Weinman recently offered an example that beats the pants off any of mine. I don’t want to give away too much, but key words in her announcement of Mehmet Murat Somer's The Kiss Murder and The Prophet Murders include “Istanbul,” “transvestite nightclub owner” and “Thai kickboxing expert.”

Elsewhere, Dave’s Fiction Warehouse holds forth on that car accident heard around the world, the death of Princess Diana. Warehouse shares pungent and entertaining thoughts on the subject and offers a surprising suspect. A comment on his post offers the lowdown on Mohammad El Fayed’s eating habits when he visits America. (An unrelated comment from Declan Burke at Crime Always Pays offers eloquent answers to anyone shocked, shocked! that we cannot leave the poor woman alone: “One, it was okay for the Princess of Wails to spin the entire world a fiction while she was alive, but no one is allowed write about her now she’s dead, or at least not for 25 years after the event – is that correct? Two, how come Elton John didn’t get this kind of grief?”)

While Diana’s story involves no crime but lots of fiction, today’s final topic involves no fiction, and its only crime is against good English usage. This evening’s dinner special in the cafeteria at the media outlet that pays my salary was a turkey burger “bundled with” a drink. What consultant decided that “bundled with” was better than “and”? Perhaps the same one who decided, for the same cafeteria, that “accompaniment” sounds more impressive than “side dish.”

Back at my desk, I read a statement from the manager of the Baltimore Orioles on his dismissal of the team’s pitching coach: “Moving forward, I felt that we would be better served with someone else working with our young staff … " I was ready to fulminate against that odious piece of blame-shifting politico-business jargon when I found that someone had done so already.

And now, a non-crime-fiction question for readers: What vogue expressions set your teeth on edge?

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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12 Comments:

Blogger Linkmeister said...

Easy. "At this point in time." Er, "now" isn't good enough for you?

October 13, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Yep!

October 13, 2007  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

"This is a new and exciting phase for ******"

When they are closing the place, and making staff redundant must be a contender.
Or "partnership working" which I think means we tell you what to do and you do it.
Or "consultation is underway" which actually means we have already decided.

But this jargon is a move forward and after all no change is not an option and we have to fufill the aspirations..........Ahhhhhhhh it is catching.

October 13, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Management of any business is, of course, genetically programmed to lie, but here's another creepy turn of American popular speech: Athletes' invocation of "love.

Its lighthearted side is the use of "to show love" as a synonym for "to cheer," as in "The fans showed us some love, and we really appreciated that."

The dark underside is the implication that athletes already earning many millions of dollars are somehow also due the souls of the people who pay fantastically high prices to see them play. Thus, fans and writers who criticize athletes are dismissed as "haters." There is something insidiously narcissistic about someone who expects not just to be appreciated but to be loved for performing a job for which he is already richly rewarded.

October 13, 2007  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Does all that "show the love" and "hater" stuff come out of hip-hop/urban culture? For example, we have a mix of kids on the Hawai'i football team, and the locals and Samoans don't use that locution; I hear it from the mainland kids. Same with the idea of winning at home: "We must defend this house!"

(Hawai'i's football coach is a believer in his kids being accessible to the media, for which I commend him, even when they say silly things. It's all a learning experience to June Jones.)

October 13, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I think you're right about "show the love" and "hater." I'm not sure about "must defend this house." I hear the latter mostly in a form without "defend," e.g., "We can't let them come into our house and beat us."

"Showing love" and "our house" have certainly carried over into use by white athletes and sportswriters. I don't think "hater" as, except in quoted or ironic use.

I've never been to Hawai'i, but I've always had the idea that it's a relaxing place, perfect for a football coach with a soothing name like June. He seems to have had more success there than with the Falcons.

October 14, 2007  
Blogger Lisa said...

Oh, the turkey burger "bundled with" the drink is so great! There's something that we do all the time at work, and I can't think of the term involved right now (when I do, I'll come back), but it's the same kind of thing: using computer or software jargon in the wrong context. I think it makes us feel smarter, sexier, and more with it somehow.

In writing, our love affair with computers and the people who write code for them seems to come out in our tendency to run words together using a sort of "camel case" capitalization (and incorrect spelling, of course): TracFone, for example. "Track Phone" just wouldn't be hip enough, apparently.

October 14, 2007  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Grins. Lisa, don't you be hating TracFone! That's MY phone you're messin' wit'!

Peter, we sell ourselves as a relaxing place, but don't try to get into or out of Honolulu during drivetime. That will disabuse you of the notion.

October 14, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Lisa, I associate "bundled with" with the marketing of software: a word-processing program might be bundled with a spreadsheet and other software, let's say. There's nothing objectionable to the term used that way. I suspect that it was a novel idea in marketing at the time, so a new term was appropriate. Offering a drink with a meal for one set price is an old phenomenon for which use of the new term is mildly ridiculous.

You're right, of course, about our reasons for applying jargon. Computers are the main field from which we deperately seek to extract hipness. Other are business and youth culture. Voguish commercial spellings have been around for a while.

Misuse of capitalization in conjuction with combining words is more recent, though I suspect it predates iPod and finds its roots in k.d. lang, not to say e.e. cummings. In the singer's case, at least, if not in the poet's, the gimmicky capitalization is a marketing device. My newspaper's television critic took a jab at a segment of Katie Couric's first broadcast as a news anchorwoman for its inclusion of a segment called freeSpeech.

And even experts on the U.S. military have invoked the ridiculously named "extreme sports." A recent recommendation from a panel that included retired military officials and other pundits advocated use of "Xtreme (sic) spies," which deliciously combines pandering to youth with bad spelling.

October 14, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I think I'll arrive in Hawai'i paddling an outrigger. Good way to beat the traffic, I reckon.

October 14, 2007  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

We keep hoping for a bridge to SF.

October 14, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Just as I keep hoping for a railway tunnel under the Atlantic.

October 14, 2007  

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