101 Words I Don't Use
zhwark
by Paul Niquette
Copyright 2018 by Paul Niquette All rights reserved.


zhwark  n
Placeholder word for a poorly chosen coinage, standing in temporarily until a more appropriate expression comes along.  If ever.  For example, in the absence of 'trickle down', zhwark would surely be preferable to Laffer Curve.
thinkerIn the '50s, computers were becoming small enough to be moved out of the "computer room" into offices and assigned to individuals.  Even so, a typical computer in those days was the size of a large desk and expensive.  Such a machine was the IBM 1620, and it was the earliest workstation.
To be sure, every computer was used for only the most serious matters. Hence 'work'.  And being immobile, they were -- well, stationary.  Hence 'station'.
From a user's perspective, workstation has always seemed impolite to me.  Intimidating, in fact. ("Get back to your station, damn it, and do your work!")  However, I was never able to think of a more pleasing expression.  In such situations, it is tempting to use a nonsensical word like...
bazinga, dealie, dinglehopper, dingus, dohickey, dojigger, doodad, doofer, doohickey, doojigger, doovalacky, foobar, frammis, frobnitz, gadget, geegaw, gimmick, gizmo, gubbins, hickey, hodad, jigger, jobby, kajigger, oojamaflip, thingamabob, thingamajig, thingo, thingummy, thingy, thing, whatchamacallit, whatchamahoozie, whatdoyoucallit, whatnot, whatsis, whatsitsname, whatsit, whiff-whaff, whosit, widget
Instead, for discussions with colleagues, I could be heard using a word of my own invention, "For market acceptance of the technology, any moniker -- zhwark, say -- would be more conducive than workstation."
  • Welcome aboard, here is your new workstation zhwark.
  • Good morning, I'm waiting for my workstation zhwark to boot up.
  • Please give me a moment to access that report on my workstation zhwark.
  • Next week, all our workstations zhwarks will be upgraded with more memory.
The word was meant as a tongue-in-cheek invitation to creative coinage.  Oh, but suddenly the challenge vanished when the first personal computer came along in the '80s.  Still, that was not the end of zhwark.

thinkerHave you not occasionally wondered about the value of commercial names for products and technologies, enterprises and institutions?  Just their names.  Here is a recent list of Top 100 Brands in the World...
 
100 Best Brands

The people at Adweek use several business criteria in the ranking of companies listed above, not merely the values of brand names for their respective products.
Apple is in #1 position.  There was a time when I thought that for branding a computer, Zhwark would be a whole lot more acceptable than the name of a fruit.
Try to imagine the efforts that go into creating brand names for products.  Without exception, car brands by the thousands have been selected to instill pride in vehicle owners worldwide.  (Oh, well, there may be a few exceptions: Adler, Buckle, Butz, Cudell, Diar, Edsel, Elfin, Fudi, Gergel, Lupo, Thing, Troller, Unic, Zotye).  One observes that Bavarian Motor Works, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Toyota are in the top 100, but Chrysler is not.  Hey, something about the word dodge makes me cringe...
dodge v.i.  Origin in 1560s, with evolution of its sense obscure: "to move to and fro" especially in an effort to avoid something; common from the 18th century in figurative sense: "to swindle, to play shifting tricks."
Maybe that explains why I will not even take a test-drive in a Dodge.  Heck, having so many other names to choose from, I might be heard to say, "I'd rather buy a Zhwark."
Also conspicuously absent are Boeing and Lockheed Martin on that prestigious list.  In early days of air-travel,few people had yet dared to take their first flight.  A name like Constellation for an airliner probably instilled confidence.  Later Comet signified speed.  Perhaps Electra connotes sophistication.  You get the idea. 
Then, along comes Airbus.  Whoa!  Riding a bus in the sky?  So much for speed and sophistication.  Friends and family have heard me ask, "Wouldn't you prefer to board a Zhwark for your next intercontinental trip?"  After 60 years of numerical branding in the form of 7X7, Boeing finally seems to be getting the idea:  Dreamliner.
thinkerIt can be argued that advances in software have facilitated the wonders in our present world.  One product, if I may be permitted to say so, started out with a perfect name: Number 92 Twitter.  Just think, more than 300 million users, and each user can instantly deliver
-- "tweet" like the sound of a bird -- messages to their followers.  Theoretically up to 300 million followers worldwide Each tweet can be...
  • enriched with pictures and video clips,
  • topically cataloged ("hash codes"), and
  • forwarded ("exponentiated"). 
No surprise that prominent persons have become users, along with political leaders.   Twitter has shown itself to be a wonderful way for a president, say, to communicate with a nation ("tweeting" is a high-tech form of the "fireside chat"), to inspire constituents, to instruct subordinates, to influence policy makers, to issue proclamations, to command armed forces... Whoa! 
No president would ever go that far.  If he or she does, then some name other than Twitter would be more appropriate.  Send your ideas here.  In the meantime, let's use zhwark.

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