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On the Renouning of Nouns

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bureaucrats, middle managers, politicians—anyone whose livelihood depends as much upon the regular application of obfuscation as a farmer’s spreading of manure—are major contributors to our store of useless words. One of the favored techniques for their creation is that of compounding perfectly acceptable nouns, folding and redoubling them until their meaning is lost, while leaving the impression that something significant has been said. 

This serves two important purposes: it forestalls the discovery of the inconvenient fact that one does not actually have anything to contribute, and it increases the listener’s (or reader’s) level of insecurity. There’s always the possibility (unreasonable as it may be) that the renounifier might know the meaning of their portentous, yet inscrutable, words—words that defy one’s best efforts to locate in any dictionary.

A correspondent recently wrote, “I attended a meeting at a publishing house recently and the agenda actually mentioned functionalitization.” Apparently, grammarazation monitors had been disinvitationalized from these agendafications. The impliedified level of excellentitude, however, was palpable.

In rereading the former paragraph, we experienced quantifiable remorse when we realized that we might have had lucrative careers as jargonists or bureaucratinizers.


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