The Evolution of Washington Speak
An exploration team flying a “Forum” banner came up a mighty river to visit a civilization, which was founded over two centuries ago and has flourished along the banks of the Patawomeck.
As they proceed up this heart of darkness journey, they beheld awesome sights. On the western bank of the river there was a massive five-sided building. With many helicopters flying back and forth, the intrepid Forum team could only think it must be a five-sided wind tunnel, or perhaps even the much feared death star. The inhabitants of such a magnificent structure, many with stars on their different colored uniforms, were heard speaking in abbreviations and it was confusing because they were even changing their words in mid-sentence. We thought it must be a clever way to show those not initiated in such a wondrous vocabulary how ignorant they had become. This was named “Milspeak.”
The Forum team then beached their ship on the east bank of bottom land and it was very foggy. The people they then observed were speaking in another tongue and sadly, many appeared to have a fever. The explorers called this sad fever swamp language “Diplospeak.”
Continuing the journey, the team saw two other magnificent structures: a beautiful White House and a shining Dome on a Hill.
The White House was the home of the mighty leader. Every 4 or 8 years, the civilization has a disruptive moment whereby the Chiefs of the Mighty Tribe change and with them they change old language for new. And almost over night, terms, which meant one thing, now mean something else.
A new lexicon was invented to fit the needs of the new Chief of the Power Tribe: this is called “Spin.” Many individuals, especially holding secret membership in the ruling tribe try and tell their fellow citizens what is going on, they are called “journalists” which comes from the French and means “words of the day”.
Going Inside the beautiful domed building on a hill, 535 (435 in one “house” and another 1oo in another MUCH GREATER HOUSE at least in their own view) great counselors from all corners of the nation gather to talk, and raise money. They also all had a language unto themselves and since they knew that they were extremely wise, they could always change what they said if they did not sound coherent-they called this “revising and extending their remarks.”
Between the two buildings, there was an additional magnificent structure that caught the explorers attention. It was where the parchment scrolls that created such a wondrous civilization were on display. It housed their Declaration of Independence and the great gift from very wise men: the Constitution. The expedition had to see such wisdom.
Entering the hall, the Forum team noticed a guard, an older and graying man, standing vigil at attention. Wanting to know more the team asked the guard his name. He replied you can call me “Boomer” –my what a strange name.
The guard explained that in his youth the man then living in the great White House known by his initials LBJ, assisted by the Dome inhabitants sent him a nice personal note telling him to put on a warrior uniform and visit a country called South Vietnam for a year. Thus began his great “Asian Vacation.”
When Boomer returned he was laughed at and mocked, ridiculed and slandered. But Boomer told us it did not bother him because he was true to himself and found a great position of honor guarding such important documents.
The expedition was joyous because finally they found someone who with fifty years of living knowledge, could interpret all the strange statements coming out of this district of land on the Patawomeck.
This language can be very confusing to outsiders, but by consulting with Boomer, the Forum team can shape a “living lexicon,” to help explore the meaning of life on the banks of the Patawomeck.
This occasional column is dedicated to developing a lexicon for those who may not have made such a journey, except perhaps on a bus vacation called “spring break” from all towns cities and farming communities that are always called give significant money tribute called “taxes.”
This tribute from the nations workers allows “Milspeak”, Diplospeak,” “Spin” and counselors to “Revise and Extend their remarks” to live and thrive.
Many terms and words are developed and bandied about which carry great weight inside the discussions on the banks of the Patawomeck, but sadly for outsiders, often this language is confusing and unclear.
This column is dedicated to highlighting the evolution of this language and interpreting to those who are not part of this civilization but seek to understand what the insiders really mean.
This is a column dedicated to contemporary anthropology, where the Forum team will function as anthropologists with a sage guide “Boomer” a man who has stood vigil for half a century living among the natives and together we together will bringing back pearls of wisdom for the rest of the world to see and to puzzle over.
For the first column in the new series see “There is no such thing as a Dumb Question”