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"Patch of Dirt" Bafflegab

October 3, 2016

When I was a tech writer I frequently came across some of this colorfully obtuse language. Using it outside the tech world I won a T-shirt and the 2007 Sun News "Dear Santa Contest," which resulted in a veritable plethora of gifts. Enjoy.


          
     
 As any self-respecting bureaucrat knows, it is bad form indeed to
     use a single, simple word when six or seven obfuscating ones will do.
       But where is the Washington phrasemaker to turn if he is hung up for
     what Horace called "words a foot and a half long"?  Simple.  Just
     glance at the Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector, or S.B.P.P.
       The S.B.P.P. has aptly obscure origins but appears to come from a
     Royal Canadian Air Force listing of fuzzy phrases.  It was popularized
     in Washington by Philip Broughton, a U.S. Public Health official, who
     circulated it among civil servants and businessmen.  A sort of
     mini-thesaurus of baffle-gab, it consists of a three column list of 30
     overused but appropriately pretentious words.  Whenever a GS-14 or
     deputy assistant secretary needs an opaque phrase, he need only think
     of a three digit number--any one will do as well as the next--and
     select the corresponding "buzz words" from the three columns.  For
     example, 257 produces "systemized logistical projection," which has
     the ring of absolute authority and means absolutely nothing.
       Broughton's baffle-gab guide.
                       
                           A                            B
                       0) Integrated            0) Management

                       1) Total                    1) Organizational
                       2) Systemized           2) Monitored
                       3) Parallel                 3) Reciprocal
                       4) Functional            4) Digital
                       5) Responsive           5) Logistical
                       6) Optional              6) Transitional
                       7) Synchronized        7) Incremental
                       8) Compatible           8) Third-Generation
                       9) Balanced              9) Policy
                       
                                           C
                                 0) Options
                                 1) Flexibility
                                 2) Capability
                                 3) Mobility
                                 4) Programming
                                 5) Concept
                                 6) Time-Phase
                                 7) Projection
                                 8) Hardware
                                 9) Contingency                
                                                

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