I have always been fascinated by words and usage. I can often tell what a speaker or writer doesn’t want me to know by the duck-and-dodge words and usage.
Journalism is, in theory, centered on clear writing. There is an old adage that journalists should write for eighth-grade readers. The idea is to dumb down the copy because people can’t understand the journalist’s big words.
I think that adage is dumb.
Most folks I know can read copy very well, they just don’t want to be bored or preached to by opinions masquerading as news. (Of course there are many who love opinion journalism as long as it feeds them their opinion. Suppression of the other guys’ dopey ideas is alive and growing.)
What prompted this column was a news article I read about layoffs at a metro newspaper in another state. The writer quoted an executive who said the editorial reductions (that means layoffs) will come from, “non-reader-facing functions.”
Non-reader-facing functions – roll that one through your brain a few times. (Careful, it may kill memory cells. The antidote is to down a tall glass of buttermilk.)
Apparently that is how we be should be talking to eighth graders.
Johnny, please stop acting like a non-reading-pinheaded-little-puke and begin your non-math-very-boring functions.
If there are non-reader-facing functions are there not-non-reader-facing functions? Am I a not-non or a non? Do I want to be a not-non or a non?
If you’re getting laid off are you a not-non or a non?
Maybe this is all some sort of dirty talk that I am too old to understand. Could it be some sort of non-something-something function that happens when you do-something-something and that function then become a not-non?
Or maybe it is secret agent code. It was placed in this news article for another secret agent. If the agent stands on one leg, holds the article upside down and sings the White Album backward the code will be revealed.
There’s nothing like a good mystery. Where is Alfred Hitchcock when we need him?
I wonder if God knows what a not-non is.
I bet he has to ask Mikey.
“Hey, Mikey. What’s a not-non?
“I don’t know. Where’s the dictionary?”
“I don’t know. Why can we never find a dictionary when we need it?”
I wonder if non-reader-facing function will show up in the Oxford English dictionary next year.
I suspect the first definition would be clear – to duck-and-dodge and try your best to not say what you mean.