We are now in an age where department store guards are no longer called department store guards. They are loss prevention specialists.
Just as a bodyguard is a personal protection specialist.Just as a toothbrush is a home plaque removal instrument.
We are in an age where dieters no longer diet; they involve themselves in nutritional avoidance therapy.
Where chickens, cows and pigs have become grain-consuming animal units.
Where road signs, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Works, are now ground-mounted confirmatory route markers.
Finally, if, as a corporation, you're forced to put out the news that a worker died suddenly after being laid off, you'd end up saying it this way: "Following a volume-related production schedule adjustment, one employee suffered a diagnostic misadventure of a high magnitude."
These and other language crimes were gathered by the National Council of Teachers of English. The group just came out with its wrap-up of 1988. It reports that it was not a good year.
Price hikes became economic adjustments, airline delays became schedule irregularities and posters became wall media.
In Windsor Township, Mich., a restaurant owner told his waiters and waitresses they would have to cough up for customers who leave without paying. He added, however, that this was not an unfair burden; it was merely inventory reconciliation.
Glass cleaners have now become visual enhancement resurfacers, an airplane crash is really nothing more than uncontrolled contact with the ground, and joint business ventures are now much more than that - they're strategic alliances.
Just as sinks are pedestal lavatories.
And mobile home parks are manufactured home facilities.
And real estate people are certified residential sales counselors.
Then there was the car company that came up with a model that customers didn't like. Management conceded having lousy sales this way: "There was a consumer reaction of unfavorable dimensions."
Canada has its share of crimes against English, too.
In Ontario, the pro-nuclear mayor insisted that a radioactive waste dump was not a radioactive waste dump. It was a containment initiative. Meanwhile, a Vancouver bank ran an ad for a relationship manager, known south of the border as a loan officer.
Then there's the ultimate purveyor of jargon, government - where jails are adult detention centers, civilian casualties are collateral damage and troop retreats aren't retreats, they're merely backloading of augmentation personnel.
Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci was asked to testify before Congress on the INF Treaty. The discussion involved intermediate range missiles. In referring to them, Carlucci repeatedly talked of something called "the physics package." It turned out he was referring to the nuclear warhead.
Sen. Dan Quayle's campaign handlers were accused at one point of over-managing their candidate's appearances. They insisted they were doing no such thing, explaining that Quayle's campaign stops were "controlled spontaneity."
Even the medical profession has become skilled at doublespeak. Drug-addicted doctors are referred to as impaired physicians. The word "neurotic" is now being frowned on, as well. The preferred approach is to say certain people are vulnerable to anxiety.
And in Memphis, the morgue is no longer the morgue. It's the regional forensic center.
Finally, there are my favorite doublespeakers of all - educators. This one is from the stated objectives of the Yakima Valley Community College: "Establish a climate of mutual support and respect that enhances the institutional environment and staff morale by providing staff with decision-making opportunities to accomplish college goals."
I think that means "give the staff a say," but I can't be sure.