The other night on the late news, Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez was commenting on the Regional Transportation Authority's decision to cut funding given to the city for Sun Tran bus service. Appearing somewhat ill at ease, he spoke with frankness rarely heard from politicians.
While talking about those who might be adversely affected by the reduction in funds to Sun Tran, Valadez used neither the word "riders" nor "customers." Neither did he mention "citizens," Tucsonans," "residents" or even "constituents." Instead, he spoke of "voters."
It was refreshing to the point of almost being exhilarating. The heck with all those other people; we need to look out for the voters. (It can easily be argued that such is the true nature of a democracy. You can pay lip service to everybody else, but you have to come through for the people who are motivated enough to decide whether you keep your job.)
In this day and age of on-the-fly lexicography (not to mention lexicology), I'd like to salute Mr. Valadez by totally coining a new word.
valadez v. To publicly speak (perhaps too) bluntly in response to a question from a reporter. Example: When asked why he voted against speed cameras on the highway, the state senator completely valadezed it by responding, "Our internal polling shows that bad drivers, who—no surprise!—constitute the majority, are more likely to vote for us if we publicly oppose something that is going to get them busted."
I've been thinking about this kind of stuff ever since our next president, Sarah Palin, coined the word "refudiate." The best guess of TV talking heads is that she was trying to say either "refute" or "repudiate," although that may be giving her way too much credit.
Then, instead of laughing it off and admitting a mistake (which would have made her ... oh, human!), Palin compared herself to Shakespeare. I googled "Palin" and "Shakespeare" and got two hits. One involved Avon, which is near his birthplace and is the product she should be selling. The other involved The Taming of ... naw, that's too easy.
Palin claimed that Shakespeare made up lots of words, and therefore, it was OK for her to do so, too. I wasn't entirely sure, so I looked it up on that Internet thing: Some websites claim that Shakespeare made up thousands of words, while one or two claim that, while he coined many a clever phrase, he never actually made up any words.
Some claim that he made up the word "elbow," which absolutely doesn't seem possible. Most claim that he coined the word "eyeball." I wonder what all those Southern sheriffs would think if they were told that they were quoting The Bard every time they said, "Don't eyeball me, boy!"
Michael (Stew) Steward, who coaches the boys' basketball team at Catalina Foothills High School, coined the word "scagulate," which he and fellow coaches have been using for years. It has a wonderful "Jabberwocky" context quality to it. He says to his players, "Come on, let's go! Quit scagulatin'!"
One time, he said, "stagulate" instead of "scagulate." When asked what the difference was, he replied, "I used a 't' instead of a 'c.' But they mean the same thing." There's power in the made-up words.
If the Oxford English Dictionary can add the likes of "bridezilla," there has to be room for something more substantial. Politics trumps reality TV, right?
Here are a few suggestions:
reginamize (pronounced ray-hee-nuh-mize) v. To say something completely vapid, knowing full well that the local media won't challenge it for fear of being accused of being mean to a woman and/or Hispanic person. Example: When asked about a proposed partial solution to the graffiti problem, the councilwoman reginamized, "I don't think it's fair to ask parents to be responsible for what their kids do."
kozachik (kuh-zah-chik) n. An involuntary tic one gets when hearing a fellow councilmember reginamize.
walkup v. Sit down. And be really unobtrusive. It's kinda like how bad means good.
letcher n. No, that's waaaay too easy.
atchly adj. Unnaturally, with the help of outside devices. Example: The TV newscaster's hair stood up atchly.
stoops! An exclamation one uses after accidentally spitting on the person he is yelling at. Example: "Oh, stoops! I'm sorry. Do you want a towel?"
brewerate v. To prove, once and for all, that it is better to be lucky than to be good—to fall into a sewer and come out smelling like a rose. Example: In serious danger of finishing fifth in a four-person primary race, the unelected governor, noting in which direction the political typhoon was blowing, signed an unconstitutional bill into law and brewerated herself to an easy victory.
patonize (pay-tuh-nize) v. Accuse a political rival of something that the accuser is even more guilty of. Since the initial case involves Republicans, it's like the sheet calling the pillowcase white. Example: When Jonathan, who began running for public office at age 25, accused 28-year-old Jesse of wanting to be a career politician, it was just so patonizing.