If you had been out of this country for the past 10 years, you'd have to take a refresher course in English in order to communicate.

There are no more garbage collectors. They're called sanitation engineers. No drugstores - only "family health-care centers." No more Indians. They're called Native Americans now. And if you're looking for a massage parlor, you'll find it listed under "adult social service center."There has been a steady movement among people to make their titles and their line of work sound classy. Everyone is a creative consultant or administrative assistant. It makes them feel better. You don't arrive at your desk with a briefcase and end up tossing most of your mail in the wastebasket. You arrive at your work surface carrying your data transport system and toss most of your correspondence in the patron assistance container.

According to Esquire magazine, the latest militants to demand a new title are senior citizens, who no longer want to be called elderly or a populace in the sunset years of their lives. They prefer to be called "chronologically gifted." And they don't go to an old people's home. They in a "congregate-living community."

We are approaching a time when an old car will become a "subsidized transportation vehicle," an old body will be known as "a celebration of gravity," and a bad memory will become "displaced recall." We won't yell at our kids anymore. We'll engage in "stress release." Dirty laundry will become known as "environmentally unfriendly," and a wedding will be referred to as a "high-risk career."

I used to think they were buzz words that would go away, but they haven't. If you don't speak "pretentious," you can't expect to carry on a conversation anymore.

In politics, wordsmiths send men to a war zone and call them "peacekeeping troops." Education counselors label a portion of their student body "children from a blended, reconstituted, binuclear family." They're stepchildren. I saw a description of a developer the other day who was "overleveraged." It sounded better than broke.

There should be a better word for a columnist. Maybe not.