Post # 333 LIP SERVICE

We have recently, and unhappily, observed a remarkably popular tendency in modern oral interaction, to preferably, substitute the very latest jargon (“cant”), whenever conceivably possible, in lieu of traditional vocabulary. This worrisome practice appears to be no less than rampant, despite the undeniably experiential fact, that the use of standard, traditional language, predictably affords far greater assurance of accuracy of the transmitted message. Yet, uncannily, it appears that once uttered, the slang word is accepted, repeated, and shortly thereafter, exponentially morphed (metastasized into) general, wide-spread use.

It may be useful at the outset, to offer a modest sample of such referenced terms, as available illustration. We would also offer the ominous and remarkable observation, that every one of the provided examples, somehow, has already acquired formal and official acceptance, into the historic American lexicon:

[Examples: discombobulate (confuse), bamboozle (trick, defraud), flummox (surprise, disorient), bail (abruptly withdraw, or leave), crash (sleep), pig out (eat excessively), dude (guy), sweet (nice, fortunate), totally (I agree).]

We are of the view, that the extensive popularity of such terms, is demonstrably attributable to an apparently current (neurotic) need, to publicly appear to be “au courant,” or “with it” (in touch with) the latest trend in modernity. Our criticism of this modish preference for such cobbled together and widely distributed lingo is, in a few cases, merely aesthetic (depending upon the particular word employed); but, as to most of it, far more importantly, it is substantive criticism, based the universal need and civic responsibility, for members of modern, civilized society to communicate with other members, and be reasonably understood.

From the standpoint of aesthetics, such words fail to provide (even) a modicum of assurance of sincerity of personal expression. They are too familiar and unoriginal, non-personal, over- used, “warmed over,” tired and inarticulate expressions, as opposed to original, spontaneous expression, carefully and meaningfully worded. In emotional, personal interactions, an attempt at truly sincere apology will predictably fail in desired effect, if a well-worn slang term is trotted out, instead of a personal and applicable one; a sincerely intended remorseful statement, will be taken as dishonest, if one of the usual catch-words are employed. A nervously and hesitantly enunciated, proposal of marriage, clearly deserves far more, by way of a responsive and loving expression of assent, than “cool.”

It is to be emphasized that the English language fortuitously, contains an inventory, consisting of virtually unlimited number of word choices, making possible any appropriate, personally meaningful, choice of expression, suitable to any perceived need, and in any context.

In daily, mundane, situations, conversation is personalized, trusted and credible, most especially, when communicants speak in accordance with their normal and expected parlance. It is particularly important in business, viz., contractual undertakings must be specific, and clearly expressed, to attain the requisite (legal) meeting of the minds; the mere reply “sweet,” to a formalized contractual offer, just will not do.

We earnestly hope that, if the use of these bizarre slang words, or “cant” is at all chosen, that it’s expression be strictly limited to such appropriate venues as the club house, bar or sport stadium; and, further, that it be artfully exercised, in order to avoid the imminent danger of some sweet, dude getting totally flummoxed.



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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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