The quality of clarity an important commodity

Understandable?: Delcons? Schadenfreude? Laurie Barber delves into the meaning behind these curly words.

Understandable?: Delcons? Schadenfreude? Laurie Barber delves into the meaning behind these curly words.

When I began work as a cadet journalist one of the first things drummed into me was not to use words the reader would not understand.

I have tried to follow that principle.

In recent times a reader—a newspaperman no less – rang to tell me of two words he had read in his metropolitan newspaper. He asked me what the words represented. I was able to tall him that I had never heard of one of the words.

He followed that phone call with a letter and the newspaper clipping.

The article he had asked about began: “The delcons are happy now as they revel in bucket loads of hot schadenfreude”.

Now, would you consider reading a full-page article that started with those words?

I had covered one of those words about 20 years ago. That word was schadenfreude. That meant taking delight in the misfortune of others.

But delcons?

The article appeared shortly after the recent federal election and I think it intended to mean Malcolm should pull his socks up.

I would love to know how many of the readers understood delcons.

I consulted all the dictionaries in my possession and none included delcon. Admittedly they were old dictionaries. But I was gaining the impression the author of the article had just found a new word and she was going to use it, no matter what obstacles might be put in her path

None of the books in my possession included the word delcon. I was a bit worried about “hot” schadenfreude also.

I found an article written before the election asking whether Turnbull would promise anything to win back the delcons. This article went on to tell the reader that “the elephant in 2016 is the ferocious boiling anger,…”

But another article wrote about delcons and added “I’ll explain the name a little later”. Then it quoted the article we were concerned about at the beginning. But at least it added “profoundly opposed to Turnbull and his left-leaning ways”, so we were getting somewhere.

The article even quoted another as saying delconphobia was rife in parliament. I was beginning to think I was the only person who had never heard of delcons. The article did say “we Delcons believe Malcolm Turnbull and his agenda is exactly the opposite of what Australia needs”.

It said “Tony Abbott and his agenda is what Australia wants and needs. Hence the moniker Delusional Conservative, Delcon for short.”

So there you have it. If you understand what delcon means, tell me one day, but not today.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop