Gobbledygook

Posted in Humor on August 13th, 2009 by MadDog
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Have you ever sat back with a cold brew or a nice glass of Chablis and read a contract or proposal? Well, of course, we all have. It’s those quite, oh so pleasant moments in life that pull us through and give us courage to face the daily challenges. I prefer my proposals with an icy cold Chardonnay and a cheap cigar, but hey, to each his own.

Proposals are the most fun to read, because perusing one is akin to putting together a 100,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, except that you have lost the cover to the box. Furthermore, the pieces each have bits of colour on both sides. Not to make it too easy for you, the shapes are all exactly the same, except, of course for the edge pieces, which don’t actually fit anywhere – they are for a different puzzle altogether.

Here’s a picture of the moon, just to confuse you:

My proposal for the target group

What makes proposals so amusing and pleasure-inducing is, of course, the employment of the highest literary form yet invented by human beings, i. e. Gobbledygook. This was brought into the focal point of what passes for my brain today by my good buddy Tristan Clements on my Facebook page this morning.

Scientists speculate that whales and other cetaceans, such as dolphins, have created an even more esoteric and informationless language, but they can’t understand any of it (the scientists, not the cetaceans), so it’s not of much use to proposal writers as yet.

Back when I used to write for computer magazines, I used a watered-down form of Gobbledygook to explain things like “assembly language” and “object-oriented programming.” Of course, I understood nothing at all about what I was writing, much as I understand little of what I’m writing today, but the point was to fill pages and pages with “information” that looked cool and contained nothing useful at all, but eggheads could stand around with a Jolt Cola and argue for hours concerning the fine points. It made everybody feel good and nobody got hurt.

Ah, I see that I’m drifting. Back to the point, if there truly is one.

Anyway, Tristan’s link was The UN Fund for Gobbledygook, an organisation which, appropriately, does not seem to exist. Nevertheless, aside from its non-existence, it does appear to have a mission of sorts:

In this context, the UNFG developed the Program for Capacity-Building in the Field of Language Transparency Impact. The program assists in dispensing with harmful idiomatic practices, and promotes the use of a standardized international framework for document authoring. Designed as a Public-Private-Sector Partnership within the Framework of the Global Compact, and supported through supplemental grants from individual donors, the program has made a significant contribution in this field.

It is strange that the Mission Statement itself is written in a Creolised dialect of Gobbledygook which is entirely too understandable to native English speakers. It might fool the North Koreans, but it doesn’t cut the mustard with us. It’s a shame that they couldn’t have obscured their mission with greater attention to care-of-duty.

The interesting thing about the site is that, if you’re in a pinch for a quick-and-dirty paragraph to fill out a proposal page, you can jut click the button a few times until the Java script poops out something sufficiently intelligible.

Here’s a couple of examples:

In the context of decentralisation, the Chief Technical Adviser will work to unlock clusters, through inter-agency-coordinated governance-related socio-economic policy advocacy activities.

That was nice. I didn’t understand a bit of it. It made my head feel all fuzzy inside.

Here’s some more:

At the national level, exploratory research points to nationally owned monitored cost-benefit analysis frameworks for development assistance planning.

That one actually brought actual tears to my eyes. Here’s an actual picture of my actual tears:

Proposal tears

As you may have noted, my belief is that Gobbledygook should always be printed in pretty pink. Fluff is an intrinsically pink substance, so we should let nature have its way.

In the limited time available to me for this research I could not exhaust the Gobbledygook generator. If did, however, become a little repetitive after a while. I think it may have developed a stutter. This is no big deal, since the fundamental characteristic of Gobbledygook is its interchangeableness. Any given paragraph of Gobbledygook can be exchanged for any other paragraph without changing the underlying meaninglessness a whit. That’s the beauty of it. It makes editing so easy.

I sincerely hope that you have found this instructive and informative.

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