Friday, August 13, 2010


As it usually happens with these hip cool geeky things, I got a bunch of emails from different people telling me to check out Unsuck It. And so I did and being the corporate drone I am, I quite liked it the idea of a business-speak (or - in their words - "terrible business jargon") to English translator. Having tried a few terms randomly culled from my Outlook inbox, I found the tool not only informative (action item = Goal or to do), but also funny (rock star = adequate programmer) and I literally lolled at the idea of e-mailing the douchebag who used it (too bad they're all on holiday this month). But then I tried the "I'm feeling douchey" button and got this:

Drink the Kool-Aid
Unsucked: Follow blindly.

Really? 'Drink the kool-aid' is a standard US English idiom and is used by all kinds of people, not just pointy-haired bosses. Same applies to 'dog and pony show', 'in spades', 'low-hanging fruit' or 'on the same page' and even phrasal verbs like 'drill down'. I'm all for desucking managerialese, but painting everyday idioms like 'win-win' (which, in case you didn't know, means 'good for everyone') with the same brush as buzzwords like 'holistic' or 'synergy' smells a lot like something you would find in Strunk and White: "Don't use adjectives, adverbs and idioms." Well, they would probably called them 'clichés', but it would be just as stupid.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Last night's episode of NBC's Last Comic Standing (a reality show where aspiring stand-up comedians compete for a money prize and the eponymous title) featured the following bit by a contestant by the name of Felipe Esparza (UPDATED: added video below):

My brother came out of the closet, he told everyone he was gay. My dad thought he'd (1) choke on a turkey - "Que dijó <grunts> oy Dios (1) <grunts> que dijóóóó...!" I ran behind him on a Heimlich maneuver (2). He said: "Not you too, [ka]<bleep>!"

(1) Doubtful.
(2) Accompanied by thrusting motions of the pelvic region.

Before the bleep, only a [k] can be clearly heard, perhaps followed by a short [a] thus combining in the syllable [ka]. Now try as I might, I can't think of an English curse word starting in [ka]. The vowel in cunt is different ([ɐ], perhaps, though it would be difficult to tell with Mr. Esparza's accent), plus the beep was longer than would be required for [nt] and in any case, this particular word is a heavy caliber and not very likely to appear on network tv. So after careful consideration and taking into account Mr. Esparza's ethnic background and his use of Spanish in the very same routine, I'm inclined to believe that the good people at NBC actually bleeped out the Spanish word cabrón [kaˈβɾon] (n. m.) = 1. goat; 2. asshole, motherfucker. I have no way to confirm that (if you do, please speak up), but if it is indeed so, then this is a great stride forward for the Latino community in the United States. Having FCC (and all the TV executives who shit their pants at the mere mention of this august institution's name) cater to the sensibilities of uptight speakers of Spanish is surely a sign of recognition that Spanish is here to stay. I can't wait to hear the "English only" crowd's take on that.