Don’t Misunderestimate The Power Of Petard

Published July 1, 2009 by glaumland

One of the most challenging aspect of my profession as a veterinarian is communication. Imagine that! I never really understood that, until I realized that pets don’t carry credit cards. Ha!

As is turns out, as a learner I am very visual, as well as tactile. I’ve got to see it and feel it to understand it. If you’ve ever seen me explain things to clients, I’m constantly scribbling on the back of paper or gesticulating wildly in trying to get my message across. I think (hope) that this works for most people, but it definitely works for me: I really enjoy the education part of my job.

Sometimes when I’m trying to talk to clients, I get stuck on trying to NOT use the super-long 50 cent per word term that they won’t understand. Then the goal becomes to find a word that is understandable AND professional. But sometimes I wonder if it just can’t be done.

{One of my children’s favorite PBS shows “Wordgirl.” My idol is Lady Redundant Woman. I’ve learned never to misunderestimate her ability to do evil! (Maybe I should become Dr Redundant Vet – has a nice ring to it!)

Gooey. This is one of my tough words. When I say this to anybody, they know exactly what I mean (some sort of a liquid mucoid discharge). Then there is soupy, which is liquid with stuff in it but not as thick as gooey. If we add a -y to the end of pus, you get another type of discharge that we will write on the charts but not say out-loud. Heaven forbid we have blood in this mix, and we have to try to explain to clients about the mucopurulohemorrhagic dischage – that’s worth at least $1.75, even if the client goes ‘huh?’ Just so much easier to tell them that it is a brownish, gooey, soupy pus. They get the idea.

(Describing smell that go along with discharges can be even more fun, but only for those clients who have strong stomachs. Most fun of all is when you get the discharge all over the place – hooo-ee!) Are you with me here?

Former President George Bush 43 was often maligned for waterboarding words. He had some real doozies, but you do have to understand – that’s the way TX people talk. At least, real TX people talk that way. But far from browbeating him about his lovely words, he should have been heralded as a great communicator. After all, the most important thing about words is the person you speak them to understands them. Otherwise, it’s just jibberish.

Some people like to use fancy words that no-one understands (and sometimes not even them!). Several weeks ago Obama mentioned that Democracy and its freedoms are not things to be hoisted on other countries. (Bold words are exact). You can hoist a flag, hoist a beer, and even hoist a petard, but I hardly think we want to put American ideals so high that they can’t be obtained by anyone else.

So perhaps Obama meant foisted, which means to get someone to accept something by using deceit. Rather that clearly explaining that clearly so that everyone could understand, he tried to show off his Harvard education. A mistake like that would have meant an ‘F’ in my high school composition class.

And speaking of hoisting petard, I bet less than 5% of America understands Shakespearian English, but who knows what a petard is, anyway? A petard is an old French word for a small bomb that was used to blow up gates and walls. Unfortunatelly for the hoister, he usually got blown up himself. The funniest bit about petard is that it is derived from the older French, Latin and Greek words meaning ‘to break wind’ (farting for you and me!).

So to get hoisted with your own petard – that would mean getting blown up by your own bomb, or possibly gaining altitude following a big bowl of chili. Some people know how to foist their petard though, and have many ways to leave their gas issues for someone else to deal with.

One of my favorite Bushisms is the word ‘misunderestimated.’ He got lots of flackfrom the media for that one. But they, along with the Democrats, should really have figured out by now what it means. After all, the Obama administration has made an art form out of misunderestimating unemployment and deficits this year, so I’m thinking they already seated a ‘Misunderestimation Czar’.

Another one of my favorite words is ‘disinclude.’ Many purists would just say to use the word ‘exclude.’ but we can’t learn anything from that word other than something or someone gets left out. But if we ‘disinclude’ someone, that means we thought about including then, and then decided to purposefully leave them out. See the difference?

Lately as I have pondered words and communication, I realized that it isn’t about using fancy or even ‘correct’ words; it IS about having your audience understand what you are trying to say. So when I say that Obama has alot of semi-half-baked ideas, you should understand that not only was the idea not properly thought through (the cake was still gooey inside) but it didn’t even have a proper beginning point (the stove never got turned on). Do you see what I mean?

Words have power: the power to share thoughts, ideas and feelings.  We must all use our word power for good and not evil. So says Dr. Redundant Vet.

 Until next time…


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