The Soggies - our Stamp out Gobbledegook Awards*
(or Soggies, as we like to call them).
This special award, which will be bestowed by the Word Nerds every year, has been created to show the importance of knowing how to say or write what you really mean – and just how foolish you’ll look if you don’t. (We’d be lying if we didn’t add that it’s for your entertainment, too.)
And because we can’t be everywhere at once, we’d like to solicit your eagle eyes to find and submit those cringe-worthy comments. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
And the Suds
To spice things up, we’re also adding a category called Suds – the Save Us from Dumb Statements award, which will be voted for by you, our readers.
Just to get you in the mood, here’s a few of our own Soggy samples:
From an unnamed US drug agency officer, interviewed on television:
“… it would allow them to access areas or get exposed to things that are gonna be fatal to their person.”
(Er, do you think he means ‘kill them’?)
“Be careful how you language it to the child.”
Lee Kingma, author of ‘What’s Your Tribe: An Enneagram guide to human types at work and play’, being interviewed by Nancy Richards on the SAfm programme Otherwise, January 13
Sign outside the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan:
The US Embassy would be grateful if any of our friends who have information on terrorist activity or threats inform us between 10am and 12pm on Sunday through Thursday.
(Implication – If you hear of anything bad happening at any other time, don’t call us, we’ll call you!)
“Today is a new beginning for the automotive industry. When people have an opportunity to see the kind of products that are now being manufactured and will be on display, they will realise the auto industry is manufacturing products people want to drive.”
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, speaking at the Detroit Auto Show in January
“As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know they’re some things we do not know. But there’re also unknown unknowns; the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, talking in February 2002 about the US invasion of Iraq
And a couple of Suds:
“I’ve never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don’t like eating fish. I know that’s very popular out there in Africa.”
From a product label: CAUTION: Knife is very sharp. Keep out of children.
“Chemistry is a class you take in high school or college where you figure out 2+2=10 or something.”
Dennis Rodman, US basketball star, June, 2009
*The Soggies are affectionately dedicated to the memory of Maury Maverick, a take-no-prisoners liberal Texan politician and businessman who coined the term “gobbledegook” in 1944 – before sending out a dire warning to his staff that anyone who didn’t write in plain English “WILL BE SHOT”.
For your amusement, here’s a copy of his exact memo (NB: It’s in the original US English and not the UK English used by the Word Nerds):
SMALLER WAR PLANTS
March 24, 1944
Everybody in Smaller War Plants Corporation
Maury Maverick, Chairman and General Manager
Lengthy Memoranda and Gobbledeygook Language: Be short and use Plain English
Memoranda should be as short as clearness will allow. The Naval officer who wired “Sighted Sub – Sank Same” told the whole story.
Put the real subject matter – the point – and even the conclusion, in the opening paragraph and the whole story on one page. Period!
If a lengthy explanation, statistical matter, or such is necessary, use attachments.
Stay off gobbledeygook language. It only fouls people up. For the Lord’s sake, be short and say what you’re talking about. Let’s stop “pointing-up” programs, “finalizing” contracts that “stem from” district, regional or Washington “levels.” There are no “levels” local government is as high as Washington Government. No more patterns, effectuating, dynamics. Anyone using the words “activation” or “implementation” will be shot.
Maury coined the term “gobbledeygook” because, he said, such pretentious and incomprehensible language reminded him of “an old turkey gobbler back in Texas that was always gobbledy-gobbling and strutting around with ludicrous pomposity. And at the end of this gobble-gobble-gobble was a sort of a gook”.
R.I.P. dear Maury – if you can!