American Newspeak Quiz


people are aware that politicians, advertisers, and CEO’s spout
a bit of doublespeak every so often. But few appreciate the scope
of cutting edge advances in the mangling of the English language
occurring today. As governments and corporations grow, they become
more distant from their fellow humans and the planet. The result
is a parking lot of smashed concepts blindly uprooted from their
native soil, which we connoisseurs refer to as Newspeak. Here is
a quiz covering some of my sentimental favorites. Enjoy.

(Answers at bottom)


What is a “radiation enhancement device?”

What is the Pentagon’s “active denial system?”

 According to the Army, what is a “pre-dawn vertical insertion?”
(Hint: the answer is family-appropriate.)

In the 1940’s, what was a “premature anti-fascist?”

If you’ve been “unassigned” by AT&T’s “force
management program,” what has just happened to you?

If you were a temp working for Microsoft and they said you needed
to “strengthen your relationship” with your employment
agency, what should you do?

If you’re made a “partner” at Starbuck’s, how
much do you make?

What was deemed “inappropriate” and banned by the community
of San Juan Capistrano in California?

(A) Pornographic

(B) Street gangs

(C) Clotheslines

In the state of Washington, what common phrase has been replaced
by “dairy nutrient?”

What are the “hazardous fuels” in the Community Protection
and Hazardous Fuels Reduction Act?

If you or your organizations are on the Bush Administration’s
“high value hit list,” what should you do?

(A) Gloat and
leak the good news to the press

(B) Get down
to Wal-Mart and start buying

(C) Duck and

As part of “Reinventing Government” which new job title
has the highest rank?

(A) Deputy associate
deputy secretary

(B) Associate
deputy assistant secretary

(C) Assistant
deputy assistant secretary

(D) Deputy associate
assistant secretary


A neutron bomb. (Personally, I would have gone with “radiation
empowerment device.”)

2. A heat ray gun used for crowd control. (Subtract 15 points
if you answered “the Pentagon.”)

3. It’s not what we get at tax time, but a military invasion.
(Undoubtedly timed to de-enhance collateral damage.)

4. The Defense Department’s label for those who fought
against fascism in the Spanish civil war while the U.S. remained

5. You’ve been fired. (This marks a qualitative advance
over “downsizing” in case you didn’t know.)

6. Pack your bags and go bact to AT&T; you were just fired.

7. Congratulations you’re making about minimum wage.

8. (C) Clotheslines.

9. Cow manure

10. Trees

11. (C) Duck and cover, you’re an Al-Quaida suspect and
the Godfather has an offer you can’t refuse.

12. (A)—duh.

Grytting is the author of American

Newspeak: The Mangling
of Meaning for Power and Profit