July 6, 1997 in Nation/World

Jargon Spreads At High-Tech Pace In The Very Modern Wired World

Los Angeles Times
 

Do you head for the “cube farm” every weekday morning anxious about being “Dilberted,” or worse, “chain sawed?”

Have you turned into a “body Nazi” trying to shake the stress?

There was a time when the jargon of any specialized group took forever to reach the mainstream, but that was before technology wired us together. Today, a piece of office slang can spread through e-mail and over the Internet “faster than a head cold through a kindergarten classroom,” says jargon impresario Gareth Branwyn, who treasures such cross-fertilizations as symbolizing the values, ideas, anxieties and humor of our times.

Branwyn has produced “Jargon Watch” (HardWired Books, 1997) described as a “pocket dictionary for the jitterati” (those who fear they are outside the digital revolution).

It’s an extension of his Wired magazine column, which, he explains, is collected from Web pages, e-mail, computer programs, trade shows and other sources.

Some samples of the emerging language:

Begathon: A TV or radio fundraiser for a charity or PBS station in which every form of guilt, sweet-talking and outright begging is used to get people to fork over dough.

Blamestorming: Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.

Body Nazis: Hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn’t obsessively work out.

Chain Saw Consultants: Outside experts brought in to reduce the employee head count (leaving the top brass with clean hands).

Cube Farm: An office filled with cubicles.

Deboning: Removing stitched-in subscription cards and card stock ad pages from a magazine to make it easier to read.

Dilberted: To be exploited, oppressed and screwed over by one’s boss.

Elvis Year: The peak year of something’s popularity. “Barney the dinosaur’s Elvis year was 1993.”

Entrenched Transactors: Bank jargon for people who refuse to bank by ATM or computer, thus wasting the bank’s money/time on tellers.

In the Plastic Closet: Said about someone who refuses to admit to having cosmetic surgery.

Ohnosecond: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a big mistake.

Open Collar Workers: People who work at home or telecommute.

I-Way: Short form of information superhighway.

Mouse Potato: The online, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.

Siliwood: Short for “Silicon Hollywood,” the coming converge of movies, interactive television and computer.

Starter Marriages: Short-lived first marriages that end in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.

Tract Mansions: Large, expensive homes built in tract-like developments by the nouveau rich.

Xerox Subsidy: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies at the workplace.

Yuppie Food Coupons: The $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal: “We each owe $8, but all anybody’s got is yuppie food coupons.”

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SEND US YOUR LINE

Do you have local samples to share from your own workplace? Please e-mail the jargon terms and a brief definition to the Business Desk at The Spokesman-Review. Send the items, your name, business and a daytime phone number to Associate Editor Chuck Rehberg at chuckr@spokesman.com.


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