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Old 05-19-2010, 07:18 PM   #21
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Sorry, I don't understand what you are saying. Is there a question or a message in there somewhere?*

* Where the heck is that sarcasm smilie...
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:23 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
I always assumed "lumpen proletariat" meant something on the order of frumpy, dumpy riff-raff, which certainly fit the context of whatever I was reading at the time

Amethyst (occasional wearer of trailer-park trinkets)
The term may have become widely known when it was used by Marx and Engels. There was a strong value judgment in it. In their use these people were not just poor and ill educated, they were also inclined toward criminality and other bad behaviors. M&E saw them mainly as a group that would not be a wellspring of revolution, but a handy and easily easily manipulated collection of dregs.

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Old 05-19-2010, 08:52 PM   #23
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... handy and easily easily manipulated collection of dregs...
Certainly not this present rowdy "lumpen" crowd. Any poster coming here with Machiavellian intents would quickly withdraw in a humiliating retreat.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:04 PM   #24
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I don't see the problem. Just read the book.

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Old 05-20-2010, 05:46 AM   #25
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"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” --George Bernard Shaw
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Old 05-20-2010, 07:11 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
But Pete does have a valid point. Language can be used either to enlighten or to confuse. I have been a military officer, an engineer and a lawyer. All three professions tend to use jargon, obscure acronyms, arcane phrases and other "terms of art" to communicate with others in the profession. That does two principal things. First, it reinforces group identity by members of the profession, because those inside the group have knowledge and a language unknown to the general public. Second, it sends the message to those outside the group that "we are the experts here. No need for you to question what we are doing. You wouldn't understand the explanation anyway."
I had to laugh when I read it. At the moment, my professional role has me situated as the conduit between two types of financial institution. I happen to be "fluent" in both dialects of pidgin finance, but neither side really understands what the other says much of the time. So I expend a great deal of effort as translator and mediator. You would think that all financial institutions speak the same can't, but nothing could be further than the truth.

I am not as suspicious of the motives on this stuff. Rather than being a secret code, I think specialist language arises from the need to convey dense, specialized chunks of information in an efficient manner. So an engineer discussing shear forces, an actuary talking about mortality loss reserving, and a finance type talking about a structured credit transaction are basically just using shorthand, IMO. The mere mention of these things triggers thought/memory for those in the specialist field and everyone is on the same page without having to restate the basics. Of course, this frequently has the secondary effect of excluding those who do not know the "secret handshake."

It also affords much harmless amusement for specialists when the press (composed of generalists) attempts to translate specialist lingo into regular English.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:26 AM   #27
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I agree with Brewer that technical jargon is a necessary evil within many fields; i.e. engineering, legal, medical, finance... What seems like mumbo-jumbo usually has a precise meaning, and one that is often different from the common use of those same terms. But you for sure want your lawyer to use the "correct" terminology when writing a pre-nup contract that could mean the difference between winning and losing large sums of money, or legal rights to resources.

That's not to say that obfuscation isn't widely used in government and industry, particularly marketing/advertising. And most folks don't have the time, desire, and maybe intellect to spend time wading through it, like many on this board do. It definitely helps to have a working BS meter...
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:32 AM   #28
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Obfuscation has long been a treasured technique of politicians. Nothing new there!!!

When I was growing up and a young adult, it seemed like media played a valuable role in unravelling obfuscation and calling government/politicians/industry out on it. Now they just seem to amplify it - repeat verbatim but louder and more often!

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Old 05-20-2010, 01:41 PM   #29
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A failure of communication of the worst kind:

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Old 05-20-2010, 04:44 PM   #30
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Failure to communicate.....

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Old 05-21-2010, 09:50 AM   #31
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The Price of Clarity

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“Through the contrivance and cunning of stock jobbers there hath been brought in such a complication of knavery and cozenage, such a mystery of iniquity, and such an unintelligible jargon of terms to involve it in, as were never known in any other age or country.” --Jonathon Swift
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But was Swift right to see knavery as the main motive for unintelligibility? Obviously, it is a very powerful motive, in politics no less than in finance. The less people understand about something, the easier it is to fool them.
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