Year 2!
Daisypath Ticker

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Comfort ‘zona’ of words
KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson
The Philippine STAR

It’s only… uhh, buzzwords. And buzzwords are all I have… to take your love away. Sorry, BeeGees.

"Even as we speak at this point in time, at the end of the day, what you see is what you get. We need a new paradigm and a tipping point out of the box. Let us establish a template for the parameters of our comfort zone."

Gobbledygook? Nope. Psychobabble? More like it. Yes, there’s more like it, in deference to zeitgeist or the spirit of the times.

Like so:

"The bottom line is that we have a proactive solution. We must walk the walk and talk the talk. As stakeholders, we should push the envelope 24/7, or else we don’t acquire a full plate or any bandwidth.

"This will impact our recyclables, rendering it mission-critical for us to maximize synergies and apply a net-net, win-win-solution. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the game plan ought to be tried on a level playing field, so that we can leverage our knowledge base into a value-added entity."

Comprehension-challenged? Can’t blame you. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a cliché. So do we take our issues off-line?

Today, the 24th of July, X marks the spot at the Batasang Pambansa, where cynosure of national attention (now, really? Really, now…) would be the First Gentleman’s Lady, or FGL, better known as PGMA. She’ll walk the walk and talk the talk (let’s not even get into ducks). And very likely we’ll hear, uttered before the rostrum, something like a stereotypical (both Houses present? Or have we gone uni-cameo?), archetypal, universal presentation of a vision/mission statement.

"Let us declare war on drugs, poverty, child abuse, terrorism and billboards. Let us preserve our heritage, our living treasures, bounty from the deep. Let us abide by God, country and motherhood. Do not do unto others what we can do for today. Sa madaling salita, mag-ingat sa beware."

Wait, speaka da English, lady. Our call centers are as much at stake as our multinational stakeholders. For this SONA, let us rise from the Sounds Of Not-Applicable. Not just state-of-the-art but a cutting-edge level is expected of this peroration, this epic network of soundbites. Thus the need for plain language.

"Let us change the Constitution. Let us improve our constitution. Let us change the way we briskly take our daily constitutional, to allow ourselves to become less constipated and more functional.

"Let us … oh, let it be. Let’s just say that your call is important to me."

Will we hear such drivel? Naah, albeit critics will say it was all trash talk, nonetheless. Even as outside the Batasan, away from the coiffeured crowd, an impassioned language of jeers and hoots, flaming effigies and invectives in the tough vernacular, meets that of truncheons and shields, water cannons and teargas.

A day of passions unleashed! Even when those Kewpie lips forego liposuction. Astig! versus apathy. One Voice against Sigaw ng Bayan! Are we on alert level for evacuation? Is it a state of emergency, or calamity? Ah, cacophony.

What we may need is a moment of silence. And yet more moments of silence. Better yet, make that a season of silence.

Not of conspiratorial mode; neither that of the lambs, nor of the grave.

But blessed silence, that is golden.

And yet, hearing the best of us speak can invite intriguing appreciation. As when contending panels locked over a bi-racial rape case render contrapuntal interpretations of the alleged victim’s state of mind.

"Selective memory," snorts the defense. Not so, huffs the prosecution, but "fragmented recall." Why, this is brilliant debate, er, extraordinary polemics. Who says we should kill all lawyers because of their English?

At the US Embassy, waiting for the all-too-crucial interview for a visa, one is digitally deluged by red letters on a black electronic screen, crawling, right to left:

"Applicants numbers… (so and so) …please proceed to the interviewing area…" Etc. Blah blah blah.

The "interviewing area"? The area actually does interviews? Or should it be, simply, "interview area"? Well, who are we to teach Mayflower descendants proper English?

I am reminded of Pete Lacaba’s protestations over "accident-prone area," which we all see in alarum signs on the roadside, scattered all over our native landscape.

Pete says there must be a better phrase. Can an area be prone to accidents? By itself? Well, actually, yes. But does it have to be a compound modifier ushering in the noun?

Let’s leave that argument and proceed on an amusing note. Such as listing down what we hear most often, in our multi-lingual environment.

Setting aside curses and epithets, here’s a bilingual double-list: Our Top Ten Buzz Phrases, or most frequently heard lines:

"Ano ang ibig mong sabihin?" Heard only when one watches Tagalog movies, 99 out of 100 of which will have this curious, buzzing question. In reality, it’ll be: "Ano? Hah? Rewind nga!"

"Kumain ka na?" Uttered as a greeting, even to a fat guy seated and having just propped up one leg on a bench, is scratching at his bare belly, and making all these lip-smacking and teeth-sucking sounds while a toothpick conducts a metronome act in his mouth.

"Huwag kang matakot. Akong bahala." Also a favorite movie line, but with echoes in reality, most often heard inside motel rooms.

"Mabuhay si Manny!" Speaks for itself.

"Testing, mike, testing." That’s a lower-case "mike," okay? Looks totally un-vernacular, yes, but only heard here, right?

"Ang bango-bango naman ni Misis." Usually spoken when the kids are in school or blissfully asleep.

"Chit nga, boss." Often accompanied by a two-finger gesture composing a rectangle.

"Sa malamig, sa malamig!" Down from No. 2, that is, from that dim, throat-dry era of the ’90s or ’80s. Or was it the ’70s and ’60s?

"Saan ho kayo?" Standard line from "jaguars" or robotic security guards, even when any smart-ass entering a building or gated village can truthfully respond: "Sa loob (Inside)."

"Trafik, eh." Said by everyone who comes very late for a rendezvous, meeting, assignation.

Now, since the new Education Secretary has just declared that’s it back to the foster-father tongue for full-fledged instruction, here’s what we can expect to hear most often in less than schwa-schwa, wersh-wersh land.

"Ma’m, may I go out?" Recycling generations.

"For a while." Muttered quickly on the phone by secretaries. Or in classrooms, by teachers.

"Praise the Lord!" Pa rin.

"I would like to thank…" Blah blah blah, from beauty pageants to singing contests, FAMAS awards nights to PBA MVP presentations.

"… And so, without further ado…" Whenever school principals intro a guest speaker.

"Last twooooo mi-niiiittts!" Pa rin.

"Sorry, guys. Traffic, eh." The tardy man’s excuse. Okay, excusable.

"Ma’m, let’s declare war on something"" Usual "suggest-ment" when it’s back to the drawing board in some Palace.

"Yes, your honor." Proof that we’ve become a litigious society.

"The network is busy now. Try your call again later." This may be issued whether or not the NPAs have just struck a big blow for their ideological cause by burning down a cell site.

Tied with that for 10th place is: "For the longest time." What the present generation has invented, to mean … well, exactly that.

(Blogger's note: My personal favorite, and one I actually use, is: "48 years!" mean the same as #10. Haha.)
posted by The White Rabbit at 10:29 AM | Permalink | 1 Speak Up!