Beating "Le Flab"

April 7, 2011

I have just come across Duflab, a wordy site that references Noam Chomsky quite a bit.
It’s big among Francophone pundits in Canada and I’ll probably get round to deciphering what all the fuss is about in time.
There must be something about the French language that turns every writer into would-be linguistic Napoleons. One of the experts there has (without any reference to a possible hidden joke) banished the word “documentaire”.

Suddenly I am back remembering a Summer spent in a Colonie de Vacances where uniformity ruled.
“Qu’est-ce qui se passe ici?” was yelled daily for weeks.Blessed if I know, but, given time and energy, will be happy to try to find out…


11 Responses to “Beating "Le Flab"”

  1. If you're in need of some text of equally impenetrable prose, use Chomsky-bot – a script which puts together paragraphs of randomly-mixed introduction, subject, and verb phrases, all taken from Chomsky's texts.

  2. Thanks for that.Chomsky… I could write a treatise on how he has affected my view of the world.

  3. Would that be Comsky, the impenetrable philosopher of langue … or Chomsky, the left-wing writer of political treatises?

  4. There are so many Chomskys.I'll get round to writing something on Widgetinghour, but for the moment I'm taken up with Spring cleaning."Manufacturing Consent" has moments of high comedy, or so I found as I worked for years as a freelance journalist and the attacks on the advertising industry had a touching sense of a person who had never left his study.However, much of Chomsky's writing is based on common sense… if one takes the time to find that.

  5. Ahh. The Chomsky-as-political-activist, then.I found "Manufacturing Consent" to be quite depressing, actually, as with most of his political insights.Of course, I'd probably find his philosophy of language stuff depressing, if only I could make sense out of it. 🙂

  6. I can assure you, if you had ever written property reviews, as I was doing when I saw the film, you would find "Manufacturing Consent" to be a profound comic classic.There is a lot of moaning about the links between the establishment, "powerful people" and advertising in the media.Easy to explain.If you bite the hand that feeds you in some areas of journalism, you get sued.I used a finely tuned coded system of writing that my friends enjoyed. It had absolutely nothing to do with the reality I was reporting.

  7. Ahh, yes: "Real Estate" reportage. When buying a property one becomes quite familiar with the beast. Oh, the coded meanings … and the decent realtors who will decode it for you."We can't say this is a piece of s**t, so we say it's a 'fixer-upper'!"Or something like that. I've done my best to expunge such doublespeak from my mind, ever since.

  8. I found that writing such taut pieces was an education.In fact, language is fraught with ambguity and it was a good exercise to write within the framework given.However, the houses were not always interesting anyway, and I was at the pin of my collar to make good copy.I have more regard for estate agents after this experience.They could sell snowballs to Eskimos, as the old saying goes.

  9. I once worked for a winery in the Napa Valley, California. They had me writing up descriptions of their wines. When I protested that I didn't like wine and knew nothing about it, my supervisor said to me, "That doesn't matter – here's the list of words to describe red wines, and the list to describe white. Nobody who knows anything ever reads these descriptions, so this is just for the people who don't know anything."Oh, the joys. Fruity? Cinnamon? Oaky? Yeah – all applied at random.

  10. You have just convinced me that there is something worse than house reviews.That sounds awful.

  11. It wasn't difficult, and it only troubled me in that I knew that it was a farce and somewhat akin to telling lies … but I wasn't even finished with my university degree yet, and they paid me. Plus, the whole building smelled like a good, sweet, port wine. 🙂

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