We've come a long way since Texan Maury Maverick used the term gobbledygook to describe the language of the Potomac. We have witnessed a refinement of that inelegant communicative art, and have experienced the development of professional fuzzification as a means of assuring tranquillity to the ship of state.
No longer must we limit ourselves to mere gobbleated concepts and multisyllabic words. And no longer are we limited to buzzwords as our shorthand of specialized language. We have graduated to the unashamed use of fuzzwords as essential tools to express our marginal thoughts -- and to protect our careers.
Fuzzwords, products of the high-technology society, enable us to appear knowledgeable and competent while we actually are trying to discover or cover what is going on. They enable us to state non-positions as positions, and they permit us to profundify simplicity through articulate drivelation.
Fuzzwords can be single words, such as "proceduralized," "interface," "slushmental," or they can be the happy blend of simple words into resonant intonations, such as "parametric harmonics," "extreme prejudice," "fiscality of receipt strengtheners" or "inoperative statement."
Fuzzifying, the larger field within which fuzzwords operate, is the presentation of data, concepts, programs or goals in what appear to be precise terms while permitting a flexibility of future interpretation. By fuzzifying one's goals one can build in the ability to interpret the meandering flow of events to be whatever is best for one's career at the time.
President Nixon's Secretary of Labor, James D. Hodgson, used "reprivatize" to refer to the transfer of activities from the public to the private sector. "Prioritize" moved with shufflistic certainty through the upper levels of the Carter administration, while "ejecta," "sequential dumping" and "threat tube" are now bubbling with cauldronistic incantations in the Pentagon.
Fuzzworders in the Pentagon have always enriched the vocabulary. They listed the neutron bomb in an appropriations bill as "an enhanced radiation warhead." A retreat in Vietnam was announced as a "strategic retrograde action," and the "risk-taking mode" of decision making was facilitated through "administrative linkages."
Space researchers use "ground-truthers" to walk the ground to verify data from the ERTS (satellite) system. They also discuss the production of unusual alloys in space through "levitation-melting."
Haigifying, a short-term equivalent of fuzzifying in the foreign policy field, gave us "exacerbated restraint" and "hemorrhaging activities." Additions to staff became "augmentees"; "caveat" and "impact" became verbs. Members of Congress and business communicators quickly adopted the verbalization of "impact," and now use it in constituency mail and stockholder rationalizations.
Canada has recently given us "exhaustee" to refer to unemployed workers whose unemployment benefits have been exhausted. While Atlanta officials were referring to new residents as "relocatees," a World Synergy Institute "implemented a conferencing process"; the "location of the convergence" was in Los Angeles.
In Washington, David Stockman successively translated tax increase to "tax enhancement," "revenue enhancement" and "receipt strengtheners," and President Reagan referred to the gasoline tax as a "user's tax." Stockman also candidly discussed the diminutive trickling of Reaganomics. Some "Reaganauts" -- government officials who are fiercely loyal to the president -- have reduced personnel levels through "attritionizing."
"Globating" (looking at the biggest of the big pictures) is often refined into a landscaping exercise. To "landscape" a decision or program is to consider how a decision or program fits into a larger context or into the big picture. "Flexible landscaping" is the skillful shifting of positions around the political landscape in search of a marketable base.
President Reagan has mastered the art of flexible landscaping. His efforts to save the MX cruise missile program have included renaming the MX missile the Peacekeeper, agreeing to freeze the expenditure of production funds until a basing system has been ratified and becoming less dense on Dense Pack. To a bureaucratic gourmet, renaming a nuclear missile the Peacekeeper is like renaming a chocolate eclair a dietetic wafer.
To an accomplished fuzzifier, ignorance should never be a barrier to success. But as an aid to the president, to the new Congress and to public- and private-sector practitioners of the bureaucratic arts, a few additional fuzzwords, also known as Borenwords, are offered for consideration:
* abstruct (v.) -- To destroy an idea, policy or concept by making it so abstract that no one can understand what is being abstructed. Abstruction combines the essential qualities of abstraction and destruction.
* attodawdle (v.) -- To delay something by placing it in the hands of an attorney.
* bloatum (n.) -- The pappetry of puff pieces. Bloatum should not be confused with floatum, a free-floating meaningless idea or concept that swirls in search of a safe place to land.
* conferate (v.) -- To be "in conference" without being in conference. When a bureaucrat says to a secretary, "I am conferating," he/she indicates confidence in that person's ability to handle the call. The simple statement really says, "If a call is important, put it through. If not, take a message."
* drivelate (v.) -- To produce drivel with professional eloquence; to express a stupid thought in the form of a profound statement.
* dynamic inaction -- Doing nothing but doing it with style.
* hunkerfy (v.) -- To mentally crouch or psychologically prepare to spring in whatever direction may be best for one's career.
* intervoid (n.) -- To avoid confrontation; interface avoidance.
* idiotoxic (adj.) -- Dangerous due to idiotic basis. Any policy, program or concept that is dangerous because of the idiocy on which it is based.
* onstop (v.) -- To continue the process of a stoppage... usually at a constant rate of stoppage. Onstopping programs are similar to ongoing programs except that the continuity is in the state of stopping instead of going.
* oopsify (v.) -- To commit a minor mistake, usually accompanied by a low-volume tonality, "Oops!" (Anyone can oopsify, but only a nincompoop can nincompoopify.)
* toadality (n.) -- A word, action or other means by which a toady expresses his or her toadiness.
* zilchify (v.) -- 1) To do nothing. 2) To convert or to reduce something from a level of value to a level of absolute nothingness.