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New English Words and Phrases ’97

One of the great joys of modern American English is the enthusiasm we have for new words and word usages. It drives the folk for whom English is a Second (or fourth or tenth) Language, absolutely nuts I hear… You’ve heard the slang phrase ‘Going Postal’. Here are some more examples, from the book ‘Jargon Watch’, just published by Wired magazine: ————————- Going Postal – Euphemism for being totally stressed out, for losing it. Makes reference to the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone on shooting rampages. ————————-Alpha Geek – The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group. ‘Ask Larry, he’s the alpha geek around here.’Assmosis – The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.Beepilepsy – The brief seizure people sometimes have when their beeper goes off (especially in vibrator mode). Characterized by physical spasms, goofy facial expressions, and interruption of speech in midsentence.Chips and Salsa – Chips = hardware, salsa = software. ‘Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem’s in your chips or your salsa.’Crapplet – A badly written or profoundly useless Java or Active-X applet. ‘I just wasted 30 minutes downloading this stinkin’ crapplet!’Dancing Baloney – Little animated GIFs and other Web F/X that are useless and serve simply to impress clients. ‘This page is kinda dull. Maybe a little dancing baloney will help.’Depotphobia – Fear associated with entering a Home Depot because of how much money one might spend. Electronics geeks experience Shackophobia.Flight Risk – Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave a company or department soon.404 – Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error message ’404 Not Found,’ meaning that the requested document could not be located. ‘Don’t bother asking him . . . he’s 404, man.’Generica – Features of the American landscape – both urban and rural – which is indistinguishable from anywhere else. ‘We were so lost in generica, I actually forgot what city we were in.’GOOD Job – A ‘Get-Out-Of-Debt’ job. A well-paying job people take in order to pay off their debts, one that they will quit as soon as they are solvent again.Irritainment – Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying, but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The O.J. trials were a prime example.Keyboard Plaque – The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on computer keyboards.Midair Passenger Exchange – Grim air-traffic-controller-speak for a head-on collision. Midair passenger exchanges are quickly followed by ‘aluminum rain.’Nyetscape – Nickname for AOL’s less-than-full-featured Web browser.Ohnosecond – That miniscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake. Seen in Elizabeth P. Crowe’s book The Electronic Traveller.PEBCAK – Tech support shorthand for ‘Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard.’ (Techies are a frustrated, often arrogant lot. They’ve submitted numerous acronyms and terms that poke fun at the clueless users who call them up with frighteningly stupid questions. Another variation on the above is ID10T: ‘This guy has an ID-Ten-T on his system.’)Percussive Maintenance – The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.Prairie Dogging – When someone yells or drops something loudly in a ‘cube farm’ (an office full of cubicles) and everyone’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.Seagull Manager – A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, sh-ts over everything and then leaves.Square-headed Girlfriend – Another word for a computer. The victim of a square-headed girlfriend is a ‘computer widow.’Telephone Number Salary – A salary (or project budget) that has seven digits.Tourists – People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. ‘We had about three serious students in the class; the rest were tourists.’Umfriend – A sexual relation of dubious standing. ‘This is Dale, my…um…friend…’Uninstalled – Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voicemail of a vice president at a downsizing computer firm: ‘You have reached the number of an uninstalled vice president. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for assistance.’ See also Decruitment.Vulcan Nerve Pinch – The taxing hand position required to reach all of the appropriate keys for certain commands. For instance, the warm boot for a Mac II involves simultaneously pressing the Control key, the Command key, the Return key and the Power On key.Yuppie Food Coupons – The ubiquitous $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal: ‘We all owe $8 each, but all anybody’s got is yuppie food coupons.’ (Also called: ‘Yuppie Food Stamps.’)

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