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What's the Good Word?

February 29, 1996|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA

Jargon.

It's the stuff that separates the animals from the first-timers, the knockoff artists from the hogwagons.

Over the years, outside forces have attempted to ban the paper hangers and the SACs and other jargonese, but private-speak has survived and thrived.

Last week jargon was attacked once more when Eugene Hickok, the Pennsylvania education secretary said enough already! "Any bureaucrat who slips an acronym in, uses a noun as a verb or submits a garbled memo must put a dollar into the Jargon Jar," he said clearly--the proceeds to be donated to buy CD-ROM dictionaries for schools.

If Mr. Hickok had a dollar for some of the jargon we found at the Department of Water and Power (hogwagon), the FBI (SACs), the Postal Service (animals) as well as in the worlds of movies (first-timers), law (paper hangers) and fashion (knockoff artists), every kid in Pennsylvania would have a CD-ROM dictionary.

Read on. We promise you'll never look at a mule or a pig the same way again.

Department of Water and Power-Speak

* Pig: a transformer, which is round and fat.

* Hogwagon: a trailer used to haul portable transformers.

* Woopie: a sling used to raise or lower a transformer.

* Hot lead: a warning that a worker on a pole is about to, uh, spit, as in: "Heads up! Hot lead coming atcha!"

* Pothead: Wow, man, that's like equipment that transitions overhead wires to, like, underground electric wires.

* Flashover: when electricity arcs from the wire to a grounded object.

* Squeak: an apprentice.

* White hat: a line crew foreman.

* Lock out: when a circuit shuts down. Bad news.

* Load: Good news! Electric power or service has been restored as in, "We picked up the load."

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