A few days ago I heard Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid being interviewed as she lowered the boom on Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus. I lost count of how many times the Minister said “moving forward” or “as we move forward”, or similar such oft-repeated and painfully meaningless expressions. No wonder she wants to cut funding to education, she doesn’t know what it is.
A while back I attended a couple of so-called “stakeholder” so-called “workshops” regarding the Broadway corridor rapid transit “study”. “Moving forward” was the much-favoured expression of the generously paid consultants who “conducted” the “workshop”. Pardon my cynical overuse of quotation marks, but it’s hard to take anything these people say or do seriously. Well, I do believe that one should seriously regard with suspicion everything they say or do. I imagine that, like Minister MacDiarmid, they have agenda of their own and engage in these “consultations” as window-dressing designed to hoodwink an unsuspecting public. Not that they do this by malicious design; that’s just the way they think. Give me good old malice any day.
You’ll recall that the Minister sent B.C.’s Comptroller General Cheryl Wenezenski-Yolland—an employee of the government, by the way—to peruse the books of the Vancouver School Board with the purpose of finding various accounting peccadilloes and spending extravagances. Of course, she found them. One could hardly expect that she would come up with conclusions that would disagree with her employer’s position. Minister MacDiarmid, I couldn’t help notice, was careful to pronounce the “mpt” in Ms. Wenesenski-Yolland’s title. Moving forward, indeed! Check your dictionary, honey, if you have one.
But I digress. Not without, however, noting that Ms. Bacchus did not once utter the M-F words. I intended to comment on hideously overused and meaningless epithets, like that one, so beloved by politicians that they can scarcely utter a sentence without it.
But what about, “Market fresh” or “Personal touch banking”. I’m sure you know a lot more like these. Whom do they think they’re kidding?
Back in the 1940s, when a few of us budding intellectuals embraced General Semantics, we called terms like these “purr-words” because, like a cat’s purring, they sounded very pleasant and comforting and held little or no meaning. At least we could pretty well understand that the purring pussy was contented; purr-words are supposed to make us feel similarly cozy, knowing that we are lovingly stroked and well fed by our corporate masters.
Don’t get me started on “closure” or “this point in time” or people who say “myself” when they mean “me”. A good dose of Strunk and White at bedtime, and don’t call me in the morning!
Hmmmm. I think I’ll trade in my ATM for a friendly tabby. At least the give-and-take between us will be honest and without equivocation. There’s a lot we can learn from our pets. Uh oh, I forgot, “animal companions”.