Monday, 22 October 2007

The word

George Orwell tackled it in Nineteen Eighty-Four (in 1948) and Sir Humphrey Appleby was a master of it in Yes, Minister (circa 1980), but Newspeak or Bureauquackery is Performing_words_3still with us in 2007. However, maybe its days are numbered. The Victorian Department of Education, who hitherto have been a major sponsor in the promotion of Eduspeak (as they refer to it), have now withdrawn their support. In fact, they are running a Jargon Busting competition this month to identify and expunge Eduspeak, even though someone in the Department is still dreaming up project and division titles such as the Thinking Forward Design Teams Pilot Project and The Innovation and Next Practice Division (responsible for organising that even more tautological "new innovation initiative").

Whilst I get a kick out of playing with words and watching them perform little tricks, I don't get too precious if other people abuse them somewhat, because they're amazingly resilient mites after all and are determined to have the last laugh. It does concern me though when, as with Newspeak, people try to enslave them into serving a particular ideology or try annihilating them when they resist.

Supporting their resistance are the authors of the website Weasel Words
, which is well worth a visit and which may well bring a smile to your lips. It was here that I discovered the following description of an Arts conference: ‘... remapping cultural globalisms from the south is a conference project about the remapping of global orders, histories and cultural production from the perspective of a critical matrix positioned geographically south and outside the dominant hegemonies of European and North American traditions. This conference is positioned at the very edge of the politics of difference. The postcolonial space is a site where the experimental cultures of the periphery converge to define new modalities for cultural inclusion. The Conference functions as a set of dialogues between civilisations, in a project that begins with the assumption that the margins are redefining and transforming the worlds of the centre ... The Conference will move beyond the closure and limits of current definitions that continue to divide and separate, whilst engaging with the possibilities of new convergent positions and space of shared cultural experience and knowledge. Global multiculturalism is a key logic of the cultures of the future.’

Having mentioned Yes, Minister, it's only fair that I (almost) finish this post with a quote from Sir Humphrey before taking myself off to enter the Jargon Busting Competition in the hope of scabbing $50 from the Department of Education.

Sir Humphrey Appleby
: Minister, the traditional allocation of executive responsibilities has always been so determined as to liberate the ministerial incumbent from the administrative minutiae by devolving the managerial functions to those whose experience and qualifications have better formed them for the performance of such humble offices, thereby releasing their political overlords for the more onerous duties and profound deliberations which are the inevitable concomitant of their exalted position.

In the beginning was the word.

Long live the word!

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