Focusing on Words Newsletter #13

(the thirteenth newsletter of a series that was formerly presented to subscribers by the Sr. Scribe, a.k.a. John Robertson)

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The Senior Scribe is trying to find more info for his project.

“I never write metropolis for seven cents because I can get the same price for city. I never write policeman because I can get the same money for cop.

—Mark Twain
Translating Politgabble

Related to the Obfuscation Chart is this list of “Translating Politgabble” by a teacher named William Lambdin of Colorado:

  • Decentralizing the Government: Akin to dehorning a herd of stampeding bulls.
  • Fact-Finding Trip: A mission during which a candidate discovers the alcoholic content of drinks made in foreign countries.
  • Government Reform: a plan for tennis courts, swimming pools and rooftop restaurants in congressional office buildings.
  • In the National Interest: Used to express the preferences of Wall Street and Chase Manhattan Bank.
  • Lunatic Fringe: A geographic term designating the coastline of California.
  • Ship of State: An over-inflated rubber raft hurling out of control down a huge, economic drain.
  • Urban Renewal: Relocating the ghettos; for profit, of course.
  • Viable solutions: The used baptismal waters of officials in power.
  • War Against Inflation: A limited war, like that fought in Vietnam and Korea, which the government has no intention of winning.
  • Whirlwind Campaign: The important word in this phrase is wind.
  • Will of the People: An expression not heard when politicians talk of their own salaries.
Words Poem


There are words that make us
          Shudder, wince:
          Wormwood, persimmon,
          Alum, quince.

There are words that soothe
          And tranquilize:
          Slumbering, rainbows,

There are words that tighten,
          Words that roil:
          Tension, turmoil,
          Chaos, spoil.

There are words that shimmer,
          That beguile:
          Stars, ships, peacocks,
          Firelight, smile.

And always, words
          That make life full:
          Love, laughter, home,
          Peace, beautiful.

          —E.B. de Vito

See this Focusing on Words Newsletters Index for other newsletters.