February 12, 2007


channelfido: n. an official, necessarily ineffective, who at all times scrupulously follows proper channels . . . a word that first appeared in Personal Administration in 1950 (194).
--Dickson, Paul. Dickson's Word Treasury. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1982.

Embedded within the term channelfido is the concept of a loyal but effete and narrow-minded executive working within a corporate setting. The word channel (which derives from the French word for pipe, thus narrowing our understanding of channel just a bit more) brings to mind the term "back channels," channels that are unseen by the public and that consist of a closed system of tightly fitted routes of authority set in a preordained corporate alignment. Inside the system of channels walks a dog, a creature loyal to its masters--corporate executives--but too small and ill-equipped to do anything except be there. Transformed into dog, our imagined human worker is symbolically reduced in size. capability, and power. This diminished cross-breed works or, rather simply walks--vacuously back and forth--inside a closed system of channels, seemingly content with his narrow loop in life.

But instead of writing "channeldog," our word-wit inserted a canine-delimited name--Fido--which brings along with it entailments of low worth that support his purpose of ridiculing the job title he is inventing. Fido comes from the Latin fidus which means faithful. The word also has a high profile in Virgil's Aeneid. Aneas' faithful companion's name is Achates, but he is addressed and known by the sobriquet "Faithful Achares,"which in Latin, becomes fidus Acharesm.The Virgilian connection lends our faithful channel-haunted employee some dignity, but he is also still only a follower.

One final comment on Fido. We vaguely think of Fido as a common name for dogs, but rarely have many of us seen a common dog named Fido. That makes Fido a kind of phantom name--a name pervaded with vacuity of sorts that gets subtly transferred into the appellation channelfido, which we see, is a mock title effectively constructed of metaphorical concepts that delineate consistently enjoined motifs of derision.


No comments:

Post a Comment