Wayne Grytting's American Newspeak

The Great American Newspeak Quiz

by Wayne Grytting wgrytt@scn.org

Most people are aware that politicians, advertisers and CEO's spout a bit of Orwellian Doublespeak every so often. But few appreciate the scope of cutting edge advances in the mangling of the English language occurring today. As governments and corporations grow, they become more distant from their fellow humans and the planet. The result is a growing parking lot of smashed concepts blindly uprooted from their native soil, which we connoisseurs refer to as Newspeak. Here is a quiz covering some of my sentimental favorites. Enjoy.

1. What is a "radiation enhancement device"?

2. What is the Pentagon's "active denial system"?

3. According to the Army, what is a "pre-dawn vertical insertion"? (Hint: the answer is family - appropriate.)

4. In the 1940's, what was a "premature anti-fascist"?

5. If you've been "unassigned" by AT&T's "force management program," what has just happened to you?

6. If you were a temp working for Microsoft and they said you needed to "strengthen your relationship" with your employment agency, what should you do?

7. If you're made a "partner" at Starbuck's, how much do you make?

8. What was deemed "inappropriate" andbanned by the community of San Juan Capistrano in California?

A) Pornographic novels
B) Street gangs
C) Clotheslines

9. In the state of Washington, what common phrase has been replaced by "dairy nutrient"?

10. What are the "hazardous fuels" in the Community Protection and Hazardous Fuels Reduction Act?

11. If you or your organizations are on the Bush Administration's "high value hit list," what should you do?

A) Gloat and leak the good news to the press.
B) Get down to Wal-Mart and start buying.
C) Duck and cover.

12. As part of "Reinventing Government" which new job title has the highest rank?

A) Deputy associate deputy secretary
B) Associate deputy assistant secretary
C) Assistant deputy assistant secretary
D) Deputy associate assistant secretary


1. A neutron bomb. (Personally, I would have gone with "radiation empowerment device.")

2. A heat ray gun used for crowd control. (Subtract 15 points if you answered "the Pentagon itself.")

3. It's not what we get at tax time, but a military invasion. (Undoubtedly timed to de-enhance collateral damage.)

4. The Defense Department's label for those who fought against fascism in the Spanish civil war while the U.S. remained neutral.

5. You've been fired. (This marks a qualitative advance over "downsizing.")

6. Pack your bags and go back to AT&T, you were just fired.

7. Congratulations you're making about minimum wage.

8. C) Clotheslines

9. Cow manure

10. Trees

11. C) Duck and cover, you're an Al-Quaida suspect and the Godfather has an offer you can't refuse.

12. "A" -- duh.

Wayne Grytting is the author of American Newspeak: The Mangling of Meaning for Power and Profit. You can subscribe or harass him at wgrytt@scn.org or via his Greatest Hits Website at http://americannewspeak.org