Edward Tenner's Post-Vernacular Discourse Modulation Protocol Teaches You to Talk High Tech

UPDATED 10/13/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 10/13/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT

It started with a wooden stir stick. Handing his office assistant a cup of coffee one day, Edward Tenner jokingly asked her if she wanted "a dedicated convection inducer." Struck by his off-the-cuff coinage, says the Princeton University Press science editor, "I began to think how many other things around the office could be renamed this way." The result became Tech Speak, or How To Talk High Tech (Crown, paper, $8.95), a user-friendly guide to scientific gobbledygook for aspiring jargonauts. Technobabble isn't limited to scientists, says Tenner, whose book also teaches readers how to roll their own neologisms. "Scientific language is now the source of prestige that French and Italian once were, "he notes. "We don't drop foreign words any more, but we do drop expressions from science." Born in Chicago, Tenner, 42, majored in holistic diachronic analysis (translation: history) at Princeton and got his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Still single, he says, "I hope my book will give me some good opening lines, like 'Are you in local interactive mode?' "—meaning "Do you come here often?' " Other examples follow.

The conventional domestic CSH is a detached anthropogenic quadrilateral territorial carnivorous-companionate-mammal protective module deployed in conjunction with olfactory/sonic-activated real-time perimeter-intrusion annunciator system procedures.

HAI is a closed two-dimensional eidetic schematic pictographic non-cognitive anthropoid psychosomatic-tone representation glyph, connoting self-actualized, subjectively optimal proximate-diurnal-segment expectation.

KDDs are macroscopic objects actively and passively deployed in real time. The aerostatic membrane (AM) is a (synthetic) latex, anthropogenic-carbon-dioxide or helium-distended spherical pressure vessel with a multistranded spun-cellulose phalangeal-linked guidance coupling. The angular momentum conservation device (AMCD) is a tandem axis-mounted, nonpropulsive, phalanx-suspended, metacarpal-controlled equiradial translation bearing.

MST is a low-mass, carpally reciprocating shearing-force disassembly instrument, equally categorizable as a nutrient-system ingestive accessory.

HMWA is a sedentary-mode ergonomic workstation for interruptible sequential bio-optical scanning, psycho-motor-actuated text generation and arithmetic operations, featuring visually discriminable nonvolatile off-line storage with prehensile data retrieval, and operator-resident processing protocols for alphanumeric/graphic inputs and outputs.

ACAH is a solar-recyclable aqueous transitional-state hominid isomorph assembled as a juvenile peer-bonding mechanism.

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