Thursday, December 27, 2007

a rose by any other name

I thought Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, w00t, was dull. Do we really need another word, complete with orthographic gimmick, that’s an exclamation expressing triumph? We’ve already got yahoo, yippee, alright, hooray, hurrah, yee-ha, etc. I admit to never having heard w00t used before, so maybe I’ve missed out on the joy of it. To me it sounds more like a Dutch rendering of “what?”, or the sound Snow White made when she tried to dislodge the piece of apple from her throat. If it weren’t dumb enough on the face of it, I read somewhere it’s a pseudo-acronym for “we owned the other team.”

Oxford University Press’s word of the year – locavore – was more interesting, a product of the times, using the loc- root and –vore suffix so, if you didn’t know already, you could deduce what it means.

A phrase I found interesting and heard the first time this year helicopter mom. Like locavore, it’s socially relevant. A word we seem to need is one for killing your pregnant wife/girlfriend because you’re having second thoughts about the whole father thing. Just might not be for you, you know? I asked my colleague if there’s a word for this in German and he said, “Notwehr.” (self defence)

The New York Times made a list of 2007 buzzwords for 2007, many of them phrases or compound words like mom job and drama-price. My favorite is post-kinetic environment, a masterpiece of double-speak. ("In military jargon, the site of an explosion, severe gunfire or a destructive engagement.") And while an astronaut diaper is still a diaper, I really enjoyed the explanation: "A garment worn by astronauts when they’re in pressure suits and can’t get to a toilet. 'We call them urine collection devices,' Mike Mullane, a retired astronaut, told The New York Times." - I mean, calling it a urine collection device implies the urine is being collected for something, but what?

But the funniest list is below. I don’t know where it originates. I found it here, but have since seen it many places without being attributed. My personal favorite is assmosis.

1. BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
2. SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.
3. ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
4. SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.
5. CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.
6. PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.
7. MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.
8. SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What Yuppies get into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
9. STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.
10. SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
11. XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace.
12. IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them.
13. PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.
14. ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
15. 404: Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error Message “404 Not Found,” meaning that the requested site could not be located.
16. GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.
17. OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a big mistake. (Like after hitting send on an email by mistake).
18. WOOFS: Well-Off Older Folks.
19. CROP DUSTING: Surreptitiously passing gas while passing through a cube farm.


Anonymous said...

Loved this list, Sarah. And I'm with you on wOOt.


Harry said...

It's not 'wOOt', it's 'w00t'.

just fyi.


London regional division, pedants 'r' us.

Harry said...

Though in the typeface you have chosen for this blog, the specific distinction I'm making isn't obvious.

The point is: it's two zeros, not two Os.


public information since 1974

SarahJane said...

thanks, Harry. I'll fix that.
but why 2 zeros? how does one pronounce 2 zeros, i wonder.

michi said...

i've seen this list. "ohnosecond" is cute. :)

and i'd actually read w00t before - in emails / chat.

okay, now do i challenge you to write a poem around each of the words on the list?

m x

SarahJane said...

I think really that "generica" would be better as "genericana."

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