Spinnish, camouflanguage and those vital vortals

Thanks to my brother Tim for sending this along. I was familiar with the Bulwer-Lytton Contest and www.wordspy.com, but the other wordsmith websites, I confess, were new to me:

How to write worse and improve your Spinnish

By Sara Ledwith
LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters Life!) - Self-improvement is a common theme on the Web, and there are countless sites offering help for people whose vocabulary is like, whatever.

Websites like www.doubletongued.org and www.wordspy.com - mined for much of the jargon in this item -- often offer regular dictionary doses, by email or other Web software.

Spinnish - "the language used by spin doctors and other political operatives" - is a fast-moving language. Chief table-pounders whose work requires them to be buzzword-compliant need sites like these to grab first-mover advantage in an al-desko array of corporate fuzzwords.

And every self-respecting CxO who works for a self-licking ice cream cone needs to know how and when to wave a dead chicken.

When it comes to exposing corporatese -- and the self-serving motivation of many people working in institutions -- the Web has for years offered a machine to help the verbally challenged talk the talk, at www.dack.com/web/bullshit.html.

Need a strategy? Try "monetize next-generation vortals." Of course, on the Web you have to "empower sticky paradigms" and to do that the systems you morph must be granular and best-of-breed.

If the delights of camouflanguage soon pall, there are also sites where people who can write well get together to generate pitiful prose on purpose.

One currently riding high via www.digg.com - a site whose users vote for stories they find interesting - is a blogger's collection of bad analogies, including the one at the start of this article.

Ostensibly submitted by schoolteachers but something of an urban legend, the list highlights the timeless fun in inappropriate analogies such as: "It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools."

But for the holy grail of woeful writing, wordsmiths need look no further than www.bulwer-lytton.com. Host to an annual contest, the archived entries at the site "where www means wretched writers welcome" are rich pickings.

Here, from Gerald R. Johnson in Vancouver, WA, is an example that epitomizes the contest's spirit:

"It had been a dark and stormy night, but as dawn began to light up the eastern sky, to the west the heavens suddenly cleared, unveiling a pale harvest moon that reposed gently atop the distant mesa like a pumpkin on a toilet with the lid down."

© Reuters 2003
All rights reserved

December 22, 2006 8:48 AM |



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