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									                                                                              NOTES FOR TALK

                                   My War Against Bureaucratese

                                Talk at Kendal at Ithaca, July 21, 1998

       I‟m introducing myself this evening because Joan Bechofer, who was to have

introduced me, claims she has another, unshirkable, obligation. My own suspicion is that she

may have decided to follow the advice of the popular song, “If you can‟t say anything real nice,

it‟s better not to talk at all, that‟s my advice.” For those of you who don‟t know, that comes

from “Please Don‟t Talk About Me when I‟m Gone.” The rest of the introduction I think will

come from what is, in any event, a dismayingly egocentric talk. So I‟m just going to plunge

into the subject matter.

       Within a month of my assuming the chairmanship of the Civil Aeronautics Board—that

was 21 years ago—I sent a memorandum to all the members of my staff on the subject of the

style of Board Orders and Chairman‟s Letters. I‟m going to take the liberty of reading just

parts of it: “One of my peculiarities, which I must beg of you to indulge if I am to retain my

sanity, is an abhorrence of the artificial and hyper-legal language that is sometimes known as

„bureaucratese‟ or gobbledygook. May I ask you please, therefore [I‟m skipping] to try very

hard to write Board Orders and, even more so, drafts of letters for my signature, in

straightforward, quasi-conversational humane prose, as though you were talking or

communicating with real people.”

       I suggested a test. “Try reading some of the language you write aloud, and ask yourself

how your friends would be likely to react. And then decide, on the basis of their reaction, that

you still want them as friends.” And then I offered a number of examples, and I‟ll give you
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only a few: “Every time you—.” You understand, I was reading drafts of Orders by lawyers,

and while I must protest that some of my best friends are lawyers, some of the worst

perpetrators of gobbledygook are, of course lawyers. “Every time you‟re tempted to use

„herein‟ or „hereinabout‟ or „hereinunder‟ or, similarly, „therein,‟ thereinabove‟ or

„thereinunder,” and the corresponding variants, try „here‟ or „there‟ or „above‟ or „below,‟ and

see if it doesn‟t make just as much sense.” One of my lawyers approached me the next day and

said, “You didn‟t say anything about „supra‟ and „infra.‟          I responded, “Rome was not

destroyed in a day.”

       “The passive voice is wildly overused in government writing. Typically its purpose is

to conceal information. One is less likely to be jailed if one says, „He was hit by a stone,‟ than

if he says, „I hit him with a stone.‟ The active voice is far more forthright, direct, humane.”

       “This one I recognize is a matter of taste. Some people believe in maintaining standards

in language, and others do not. But unless you feel strongly, would you please try to remember

that „data‟ has for more than two thousand years been plural, and is still regarded by most

literate people as plural. . . . And that—this one goes back even longer—the singular is

„criterion‟ and the plural is „criteria.‟ Also that, for at least from the seventeenth through most

of the twentieth century, „presently‟ meant „soon‟ or „immediately,‟ not „now.‟ The use of

„presently‟ to mean „now‟ is another pomposity. If you mean „now,‟ why don‟t you say „now‟?

Or, if necessary, „currently‟?”

       Next one. “Could you try to make the introduction of your letters somewhat less

pompous?     Like, „This is in reference to you letter dated May 24th 1993 regarding‟ or

„concerning‟ or „in regard to‟ or „with reference to.‟ It doesn‟t sound as though it‟s coming
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from a human being. Why not, for example, „The practice of which you complain in your letter

of May 12th is one that‟s troubled me for a long time.‟ Or, even better, „I‟ve looked into the

question you raised in your letter of May 12th, and I‟m happy to be able to report—.‟”

        “Why use „regarding‟ or „concerning‟ or „with regard to‟ when the simple word „about‟

would do just as well? Unless you‟re trying to impress somebody. But are you sure you want

to impress anybody who would be impressed by such circumlocutions? There‟s a similar

pompous tendency”—which, by the way, is running riot these days—“to use „prior to‟ when

you mean „before.‟” Nobody ever says “before” anymore. It‟s got to be “prior to” because that

sounds so much more impressive. There are times when “prior to” makes sense, “when what

comes before is a condition of what follows, as in a prior condition.”

       Now, “I know „requesting‟ is considered more genteel than „asking.‟ But „asking‟ is

more forthright. Which one do you want to be?”

       “One of my pet peeves is the rampant misuse of „hopefully.‟ The word is an adverb,

and makes sense only as it modifies a verb. It means „with hope.‟ It‟s possible to walk

hopefully into a room, if you‟re going into the room with the hope of finding something, or not

finding something there. It is not intelligent to say, „Hopefully, the criminal will make his

identity known.‟ Because he’s not going to make it known „hopefully.‟ He won‟t do it with

hope in his heart. And he’s the subject of the verb, „make.‟”

       “My last imposition on you today is the excessive use of „appropriate‟ or

„inappropriate,‟ when what you really mean is „legal‟ or „illegal,‟ or „proper‟ or „improper,‟ or

„desirable‟ or „undesirable,‟ or „fitting‟ or „not fitting,‟ or, simply, „this is what I want (or do

not want) to do.‟ Before I came to the Civil Aeronautics Board I was Chairman of the New
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York Public Service Commission, and one of the very sincere, valued members of the staff that

had the job of writing our draft opinions, which I had always to rewrite, wrote that the

Commission didn‟t want to do something because „we do not deem it appropriate.‟ At the risk

of embarrassing him—but very kindly—I said, „Do you have a child?‟ “Yes.” “Why don‟t you

call your kid into the room some day and say, “I don‟t want you to do something because I

don‟t deem it appropriate. If that kid doesn‟t laugh you out of the room—who wants kids like

that?” He never did it again.

       The memo had an electric effect. The Washington Post published it in full, “as a public

service.” It also commented on it in an editorial, entitled “The Sayings of Chairman Kahn.”

That‟s when there was a lot of talk about The Sayings of Chairman Mao. Third, I got a public

proposal of marriage from a columnist in the Boston Globe. She said, “Alfred Kahn, I love

you. I know you‟re in your late fifties and are married, but let‟s run away together.” I was

nominated for the Presidency by a newspaper in Kansas and for the Nobel Prize by a

newspaper in Singapore. I was appointed shortly after to the Usage Panel of The American

Heritage Dictionary, a position that I have continued to hold ever since.        My war on

bureaucratese was a major feature of my first, full-hour appearance on the McNeal-Lehrer

Report—for which, I was informed, the demand for copies was greater than for any previous

program—featuring especially my admonition to the CAB staff: “If you can‟t explain what

you‟re doing in plain English, you‟re probably doing something wrong.”

       Finally, I received a communication from a man—a real hero, named Jim Boren. He

was either the brother or the cousin of David Boren, at the time a senator from Oklahoma. He‟s

the head of an organization, which he founded, The International Association of Professional
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Bureaucrats. Their motto is, “When in doubt, mumble.” They hand out pencils with erasers at

both ends. In his letter, he said he wanted to come to my office and present me, in the presence

of reporters, with a Rejection Scroll, a copy of which I have, which begins: “Whereas, the

Honorable Alfred E. Kahn, Chairman of the CAB, has persistently insisted that the lawyers of

the CAB write in simple language, and whereas it is universally noted that all lawyers write

with non-directive fuzziness, but lawyers who double as bureaucrats write with the clarity of

Chaucer, the profundity of the Federal Register, and the gravity of the Congressional Record,

therefore, in sad recognition of Chairman Kahn‟s subversive campaign against the protective

language of bureaucracy, the Board of Directors of INATPROBU—the International

Association of Professional Bureaucrats—hereby award Alfred E. Kahn the INATPROBU

Rejection Scroll, and proclaims him ineligible to receive the Order of the Bird and other

INATPROBU awards which are presented only to those steadfastly applying the principles of

dynamic inactivism, subject, however, to adjustive reconsideration, on the basis of future

performance in the spirit of constructive apathy and/or cordial arrogance. Given under the seal

this tenth day of February 1978.” It is or has been on a wall at my office.

       One other occasion on which it was easy for me to talk about this hobby of mine was

when I was invited to give the Keynote speech at a conference sponsored by a very lively

organization, Women Communicators in Government. The topic of their session was Public

Affairs Communication. I began by declining apologetically to discuss the subject. It was a

matter of principle with me, I said, never to “communicate” with people. So how could I in

principle talk about people communicating with other people? If you don‟t do it yourself, is it

moral to recommend it to others?        I would, however, I said, be glad to talk to them.
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Communicating, I explained, is only one degree better than “interfacing” with people. And

giving or accepting “inputs” from them—let alone give them an opportunity to input. [That

talk earned me an editorial in the Washington Star on the occasion of my leaving the White

House, “Farewell to a Jargon Hunter.” I‟m so proud of it, I attach a copy to this transcript of

my talk.]

       Shortly before that I gave a speech on environmental policy in Washington, and at the

end somebody asked me, “How does your position differ from that of Secretary Schlesinger?”

(Jim Schlesinger, a friend of mine—to whom we had offered a position in the Cornell

Economics Department, when I was Chairman—who was then Secretary of Energy). And I

said, “Well, the main difference is that Secretary Schlesinger uses „input‟ as a verb.”

Whenever I hear people talk about input, it conjures up the image of a German golfer standing

on the green and “inputting” the ball: the verb, I presume, is “hereingeput.”

       Oh yes, there‟s another thing communicators do, especially in government. They

engage in “outreach.” I had though of putting a motto put up on the wall of my office at the

CAB (but never did—along with one I claimed publicly to have had to look at when I had to

fulfill some ridiculous regulatory responsibility: “Is This What My Mother Brought me up to

Do?”): “Outreach makes me upchuck.” Sometimes the demands of pomposity and dynamism

converge—as in using “input” as a verb, “specifics” for “details” and constantly

“implementing” things and “addressing issues.”

       And, of course, no brisk government servant would want to be a member of a

committee or a commission. Oh no. It has to be a “task force.” Which conjures up the image

of Admiral Nimitz sailing into Midway with his task force ready to destroy the enemy. Time
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and again I‟ve received the advice, “Why don‟t you organize a task force?” I‟ve responded,

“Only over your dead body.”

       A couple of years ago I received a postcard: “I would like more information on how the

Executive Air Guide case impactfully helps to reach the corporate decision maker.” That‟s

really dynamite.

       Although my original memo to the CAB staff began as what I thought was simply an

aesthetic reaction or revulsion to what I was being forced to read or what was pretending to go

out in my name, it soon became clear to me that it sprang also from a conception of the proper

role of government. By my standards the function of a government employee is to be helpful to

people—to real people—rather than condescend to them, or inflate one‟s own stature or

importance. In short, the one thing a government employee should avoid is being or looking

like a pompous ass. One of the nicest things that happened to me occurred only two weeks

ago: somebody came up to me on an airplane and said, “You‟re Alfred Kahn, aren‟t you? I

followed everything you did in Washington. You were never a pompous ass.”

       The subject matter of my original memo at the CAB grew into a kind of avocation.

While still at the Board I began more or less systematically to compile and to try to analyze the

different kinds of derelictions, the various sources or explanations of this tendency to reverse

peristalsis. I soon realized that the phenomenon was much more complicated than mere

bureaucratese. I ended up with a forty-page closely typed set of examples, organized by

categories. Upon my return to Ithaca, I continued to supplement the list, beginning by reading,

or reading, or rereading, the classic book by the two Cornell people, Strunk and E.B. White,
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The Elements of Style—from whom I get some of the best examples that would belong in the

first category, identified in my memo—defects of “Logic and Grammar.”

       Language and grammar can be beautiful if used with precision. Language can make

fine distinctions. It can convey complex ideas. It can describe subtle relationships. But if

abused, it can do just the opposite. Let me first give you a couple of examples of the first

category of these lapses in grammar and logic—which are the same thing—dangling phrases

and clauses, and drifting adjectives. Here are three examples from Strunk and White: “Being

in a dilapidated condition, I was able to sell the house very easily.” “Wondering irresolutely

what to do next, the clock struck twelve.” “As a mother of five, with another on the way, my

ironing board is always up.” And this one I got from a birdwatcher, who happens to be a

relative: “Using binoculars, the birds fill the viewing area and their heads and mouths are right

before my eyes.” The image of these birds using binoculars is an intriguing one. “Based on” is

frequently similarly misplaced or abused, hung out there somewhere in limbo. It‟s a favorite

usage of lawyers and technical witnesses: “Based on this background, we had decided—.” I

like the image of “we” based on a background—whatever that means.                “Based on the

foregoing, action will be deferred.” Use of the passive voice makes that one even more

constipated. How about: “On the basis of these considerations, we will do such-and-such?”

       Another rampant abuse of logic that you can find everyday if only you‟re sensitive to it

is the misplacing of “only.” Decades ago there was a movie with Silvia Sydney and John

Garfield, called “You Only Live Once.” Surely it‟s not only living that one does once. You

have your first romance only once. Try to put the “only” next to the word to which it applies.

You live only once. That makes sense. Here‟s one from a Board draft, which of course did not
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get out to the public because I saw it first: “The Board [that‟s the CAB] can only amend a

certificate after a hearing.” They were clearly not saying what they meant. And, indeed, what

they said was wrong. The Board can do a lot of things to a certificate, after a hearing. It isn‟t

that it can only amend it. It can grant it. It can rescind it. It can burn it. What they clearly

meant was, “The Board can amend a certificate only after a hearing.” One of my successors as

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who shall be nameless, was quoted (misquoted, I am

sure) as having spoken deprecatingly about Cornell graduates who have “only studied

accounting.” Well, what would he have them do with accounting besides study it, while in

school? Consume it? Play frisbee with it? Obviously what he meant, and deprecated, was that

they were studying only accounting. Here‟s one from a TV news report: “The plot was only

discovered when police stopped a suspicious-looking driver.” It wasn‟t only discovered; it was

presumably also frustrated. Obviously what they meant was that the plot was discovered only

when the police—. Move your “onlies”; you‟ll enjoy it.

       My lawyers loved to use “nor” when they meant “or,” so that they were constantly

committing double negatives: “The application doesn‟t disclose X, nor Y.” There was a

cartoon in the New Yorker, of a woman with a coat and her bags packed, walking out of a room.

She turns to her husband and says, “I‟m leaving you.” He says, “I could care less.” She says,

“Exactly. That‟s why I‟m leaving you. Your slovenly rhetoric.” Obviously what he meant

was, “I couldn’t care less.”

       Then there are malapropisms. Some of our lawyers insisted on using “mitigate” when

they meant “militate.” When something militates against something else, it tends to operate

against it or to counteract it. When it mitigates something else, it makes it less severe or harsh.
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       Closely related is the blurring of useful distinctions. “Diction” is or used to be a very

useful word.    Today, or for the last thirty years, it has been used as synonymous with

“enunciation.” But if “diction” is the same as “enunciation,” who needs diction? And what are

we going to use for the word “diction,” which means “choice of words”? Example: In The

Pirates of Penzance, the Major General says, “I‟m telling a terrible story/But it doesn‟t

diminish my glory/For they would have taken my daughters/Over the billowy waters/If I hadn‟t

in elegant diction/Engaged in an elegant fiction/Which is not in the same category as telling a

terrible, terrible story.” I recall happily a radio announcer, David Ross, who did indeed

enunciate elegantly, receiving an award for “diction”: the conferrers of the award should have

received the order of the bird for the same reason!

       People use “fortuitously” when they mean “fortunately.”         But we have the word

“fortunately,” so why waste “fortuitously” on that? And besides, what are we going to use

then when we mean “fortuitously”? You could say “serendipitously,” but “serendipitously”

often includes the idea of being not only fortuitous (notice my elegant locating of “only”) but

also desirable or fortunate. So, the use of “fortuitous” to convey its intended and unique

meaning has now been destroyed; whom can I sue for that loss?

       One that you surely have been irritated by is “disinterested.” A marvelous word. It

means “impartial because of having no stake in the outcome.” Surely nine out of ten TV

announcers or newspaper reporters use it as meaning “uninterested.”            But we‟ve got

“uninterested”; why substitute “disinterested,” and then what are we going to use for

“disinterested” when we need it?
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       Now I get to the heart of my advertised subject:             “Officialese, bureaucratese,

pomposity,” all intended to inflate the importance, the up-to-datedness and the dynamism of the

speaker. If I never see the word “implement” again I will die happy. I‟ve seen it used in

contexts when you would have instead said to your wife, or your spouse equivalent, or child—

unless you have some kind of relationship with them that I don‟t even want to hear about—

“begin.” The Board was going to “implement air service,” by which the scribe evidently meant

“initiate” or “authorize” it.   “The Mexicans should be permitted to implement air service.”

How about “offer”? or “provide”? “The Mexican government should have an opportunity for

implementation of the rights it obtained in our treaty.” How about “make use of”? or “take

advantage of”?

       Another word that I hope I never see again—almost never—is “address.” Some of you

would apparently have all the people in the world do nothing but “address” things—especially

“address issues.” Everything is an “issue.” How about “handle,” “deal with,” “confront,”

“treat,” “analyze,” “discuss,” “answer,” “consider,” “rule on,” “solve,” “dispel” or merely

“respond to”? “He did not address our concerns.” (Wait. I‟ll get to “concerns” in just a

minute.) The ex-deputy administrator of EPA‟s superfund once said that the superfund,

“addresses the cutting edge of the toxics program.” Boy, that really conjures up an image—

which could also, of course, go under the heading of “mixed metaphor.” How do you address a

cutting edge? It sounds as though it might be painful. I myself have vowed that I‟m going to

confine my addressing to envelopes, audiences and golf balls.

       “Finalize.” I hate the practice of converting adjectives or nouns into verbs, but I‟m

gradually surrendering, as I am also on “contact,” because I really can‟t think of another single
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word as apt; or “prioritize,” which is even more pompous. But I do draw the line at “impact,”

which is usually used incorrectly even as a noun, because it clearly implies or should imply a

percussive or dynamic effect, a forceful contact. Back to “finalize.” How about “make final,”

or simply “adopt,” or “confirm”? It‟ll make you think you sound less important, but people

will like you better. How many times have I seen “pursuant to” when you could just say

“under”? Or “subsequent to” when you mean “after”? Or “prior to” when you mean “before”?

       There are other such pomposities, such as adding a syllable to give additional weight or

importance. Nobody talks uses “methods” anymore, it‟s always “methodology.” Come to

think of it, nobody who is anybody or wants to be anybody “uses” anything; it‟s always

“utilize.” Nobody has “motives” anymore, it‟s always “motivations.”

       One of the all-time greatest perpetrators of most of these sinful practices was Alexander

Haig, former Secretary of State in the Reagan administration.          Jim Boren, head of that

International Association of Professional Bureaucrats, sent me a wonderful issue of his

publication, Mumbletypeg, the Voice of the Bureaucrat, with the headline “To Haigify: To

Formulate and/or Explain Foreign Policy in Terms that No One Can Understand.”

“Haigification,” he says, “is similar to fuzzification and profundification. But its distinction as

a new Washington verb form lies in its specific application to the discussion of foreign policy.

The first major contribution to the language of the Potomac by the Reagan administration.”

Here are a few Haigifications: “Now, as you parcel it out in the context of individuals or

separatist movements or independence movements, of course the problem is substantially

different and the restraints, and the ability to apply retaliatory action, is sometimes not only

constrained but uncertain, and so I caveat it this way.” Would you like me to read that again?
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On your own time. “But be that as it may, they today are involved in conscious policy, in

programs, if you will, which foster, support and expand this activity, which is hemorrhaging in

many respects throughout the world today. Finally, when I said, I think, to somebody last

night, that was consciously ambiguous, that statement, consciously ambiguous in the sense that

any terrorist government or terrorist movement that is contemplating such action I think knows

clearly what we are speaking of.” And here‟s a Haigification that I collected myself: He once

called for reducing the debate on foreign policy “down to a lower level of fixation.”

       I had a memorandum from a member of my staff in the White House, “Note to Fred

from Ron. Subject: Something I‟ll bet you didn‟t know. „Nutshell‟ is a verb. I‟d just come

out of a meeting at which a White House staffer asked me, „How do we “nutshell” this

substance-wise?‟” How do we nutshell this substance-wise?

       As these examples demonstrate, often the motive is not so much to inflate the

importance of the speaker, but it‟s just to be dynamic—as in using “impact” even as a noun, let

alone as a verb. Or merely fashionable. We have a new word: “proactive,” instead of

“active.” Perhaps as distinguished from “anti-active” or “pro-passive”? And also, now, I keep

coming across people using “incent” as a verb: “We want to incent them to do something.” I

wouldn‟t be caught dead using “incent” in any context! Verb, noun, preposition, anything

else. “Let‟s engage in a dialogue.” Oh my God, everybody engages in dialogues! And uses

“dialogue” as a verb. Well, what ever happened to the distinction between “conversation” or

“discussion,” and formal, typically written, “dialogue,” as in a drama? Or even “debate”? The

trouble with getting into debate is that then we get into the ubiquitous use of “issue.” You

can‟t get through a day without something being called—everything’s an “issue”! A week or
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two ago I heard on the radio, “We need a party that will fight for issues like affordable health

care.” I‟m willing to fight for “goals”—bur for issues?

        In my long memo, I identified a category of “mirror-image crimes.” For example, one

side of the mirror would be what I call “over-specification”: in flat violation of the general rule

that it‟s rude to point, lawyers tend to point all the time. And even pointing and emphasizing

their pointing when it‟s entirely unnecessary. They use “that” when “the” would be sufficient.

Or “those” or “such” “where no such forceful indication is required. “That part of the

legislative history that looks toward the future.” How about “The part of legislative history that

looks toward the future”? “The second category covers those situations in which—.” Try

deleting “those”—“The second category covers situations in which”—and ask whether the

reader won‟t fully understand what you‟re talking about. “By our designation”—this is a

quote—“of certain city pairs as co-terminals, we intend to permit the carriage of local traffic

between those city pairs.” Just substitute “them” for “those city pairs.” “A distinction might be

drawn”—this is another quote—“between those situations in which [something] and those

situations in which [something else].” Just leave out “those.” That practice is very closely

related to a disease of lawyers, “pronounophobia.” Lawyers cannot bear to use a pronoun,

even when the antecedent is absolutely clear. I will have orders given to me that list “TWA” at

the beginning of every paragraph—seven, eight, nine times—rather than “the airline” or “the

carrier” or “it” or “they.” “It is ordered (1) that a certificate be issued. (2) Said certificate shall

be—.” “The certificate shall be” is perfectly sufficient. Here‟s one: “The parties are entitled to

know the Board‟s decision on said motion.” My comment: aw, come off it! That‟s, as I say,

related to lawyers‟ nauseating repetition of nouns, when a pronoun would do.
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       The other side of that mirror, the crime of excessive specification, excessive pointing, is

what I call “false gentility.” Having just given you some examples of violations of the rule that

it‟s rude to point, I want now to give you some examples of cases in which people go to great

lengths to avoid pointing, when pointing is exactly what‟s called for. The most rampant

example is the constant use of the verb “indicate.” Nobody ever says anything anymore; they

merely “indicate.” Obliquely. Presumably with their eyes averted. Every time you‟re tempted

to use the word “indicate,” except in cases in which the mere oblique indication or suggestion

is what you want to describe, try “say,” or “state,” or “assert,” or “claim,” or “aver,” or even

“asseverate.” And take some satisfaction in being bold and direct. It reminds me of Ring

Lardner‟s classic statement, “„Shut up!‟ he explained.” The modern equivalent would be,

“„Shut up!‟ he indicated.”

       Other examples of false gentility: “We would also stress.” Why not just, “We also

stress”? Be bold. (I was going to say, “Be a man!” but consider the obliquy to which that

would subject me!) Others are “request” when you mean “ask.” Or “utilize” when you mean

“use.” Or “thank you for your correspondence,” when you mean, “thank you for your letter.”

And how many times do people say, “I share your concern,” (even when obviously they do

not!): it makes me want to swear loudly and make obscene gestures.

       That brings me back to the passive voice, which people often use in an attempt to be

genteel: where it seems impolite just to say something straight, it‟s better to say it backwards.

Of course, as I have already pointed out, the other reason is to avoid responsibility or to conceal

information. The use of the passive is for this reason ideally suited to a faceless bureaucrat

who wants to remain faceless: “it was decided,” avoids saying “I decided—and what are you
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going to do about it?”      “Appropriate” and “inappropriate” serve the same purpose:          As

purported explanations, they avoid adding any information to the mere fact of the decision that

they purport to explain, as well as sounding more genteel. Consider the less genteel but more

informative alternatives: “We rejected your application because we didn‟t like it,” or “because

we think it‟s lewd,” or “illegal,” or because “we don‟t like it—or you.” Or “we decided it was

inappropriate” when we want to say, “we just don‟t want to.”

       Here‟s one last one that I took from an Order of the Board: “The cost of a separate

certificate proceeding at this time prior to the result of this experiment would be premature and

delay the implementation of services which are in the public interest. In this regard, the overall

costs to Pam American from such a proceeding could turn out to be disproportionate to the

profits the carrier will actually achieve through the provision of this service. Therefore, to

require the carrier to undergo a certification proceeding in order to perform the services

contemplated would be an undue burden on the carrier since such action would have the

practical effect of precluding the proposed operation.” Here‟s what I suggested: “Try „before‟

instead of „prior to,‟ „introduction‟ instead of „implementation,‟ substitute „that‟ for „which,‟

delete „in this regard‟ and „overall,‟ change „from‟ to „of,‟ change „the first carrier‟ to „it,‟

change „achieve‟ to „earn,‟ change „through the provision of this service‟ to „by providing this

service,‟ change the second „the carrier‟ to „it,‟ delete „contemplated,‟ change the next „the

carrier‟ to „Pan American‟ and change „such action‟ to „it‟ for starters,” I said.

        Concluded my long memo: “I would be distressed if you took these remarks

personally.    Please instead realize that the game of expressing yourself clearly and

straightforwardly, and even more, of identifying pomposities and irrationalities in others, can
                                                                          NOTES FOR TALK AT
A.E. KAHN                                     - 17 -                 KENDAL AT ITHACA 7/21/98

be a great deal of fun. If you can‟t explain what you‟re doing in plain English, you‟re probably

doing something wrong. [Forgive that repetition.] And accept my assurances finally that it will

pay dividends. People who read what you write will quickly observe if they‟re hearing from a

stuffed shirt or a breathing human, and will respond with open delight if it‟s the latter, and that

is intensely satisfying. Believe me.”

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