The most boring sentence
August 26, 2022 12:30 PM   Subscribe

What's the most stultifying sentence you can think of in your area of expertise?

For a throwaway joke in a book, I need something very short (one sentence, MAYBE two) and very boring, in the sense of being opaque to the general reader. For personal reasons, I also want it to be unimpeachably accurate. Do you have an area of expertise generally considered boring to the public, and can you generate a technically precise but snoozeworthy sentence in your jargon? (As an example, my current placeholder is explaining the difference between macroeconomics and microeconomics, but I don't trust myself to do that accurately.) I will not steal your sentence wholesale but I need some inspirado.

BTW, I saw this old Ask but by "jargon" I specifically don't mean acronyms or office-specific stuff, but terms of art.
posted by babelfish to Writing & Language (43 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
At last week's meeting we established our deliverables, dependencies and durations.

translation: We built a schedule.
posted by edbles at 12:33 PM on August 26 [5 favorites]

Buy low, sell high.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:34 PM on August 26

This action is barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel.
posted by holborne at 12:41 PM on August 26 [7 favorites]

Best answer: In languages with ergative-absolutive alignment the subject (S) and patient (P) show the same morphological case marking or adpositions, while the agent (A) is marked differently; in languages with nominative-accusative alignment, S and A are the same, and P is different.
posted by damayanti at 12:44 PM on August 26 [35 favorites]

I've spent a lot of years in different creative spaces, and have found that there's an infuriatingly predictable trajectory as follows:

The walls are initially a pristine white.

Some moron happens by and writes "Art" in an awful scrawl on one of the walls. Now the text burns into my brain. Another moron happens by and amends the scrawl to "Fuck Art".

It reminds me of Holden Caulfield's "Fuck You" soliloquy from Catcher in the Rye. It burns.
posted by effluvia at 12:53 PM on August 26

Performance of the system may not meet requirements until all elements of the documented design have been successfully deployed.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 12:58 PM on August 26 [8 favorites]

The findings are robust to alternative specifications; see Appendix J, pp. 78-189.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:00 PM on August 26 [10 favorites]

There is also a recoding when industries are felt to have changed substantially over time; for instance 2009 PUMS industry 4970, RET-Radio, TV and Computer Stores no longer exists and has been replaced with 4975, RET-Electronics Stores – in addition, industry 5270, RET-Sporting Goods, Camera, and Hobby and Toy Stores was recoded to 5275, RET-Sporting Goods, And Hobby And Toy Stores dropping Camera from the name.

Just literally tabbed over to Word and cut and paste the first sentence I saw from the documentation I'm working on.
posted by Superilla at 1:27 PM on August 26 [13 favorites]

"I think I can resolve these UX issues in the GenericTable component on the api-side with null coalescing."
posted by protorp at 1:31 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For a great example of this kind of joke in action, check out the piping lingo used on Patriot, which is hilariously boring. Is it real? Don't know.

"Let me walk you through the Donnelly nut spacing and crack system rim-riding rip configuration. Using a field of half-C sprats, and brass-fitted nickel slits, our bracketed caps and splay-flexed brace columns vent dampers to dampening hatch depths of one half meter from the damper crown to the spurve plinths. How? Well, we bolster twelve husk nuts to each girdle-jerry, while flex tandems press a task apparatus of ten vertically-composited patch-hamplers. Then, pin-flam-fastened pan traps at both maiden-apexes of the jim-joist."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:31 PM on August 26 [20 favorites]

I am an accountant. The looong sentence at or near the beginning of The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace, bored me to tears. I abandoned that book in the first paragraph, probably around page 34.

My brother though it would be interesting to me, because it is about accounting.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 1:34 PM on August 26 [3 favorites]

Flow of control is supported through polymorphic function calls, a variety of conditional and iteration constructs, and a non-local transfer mechanism with protected regions.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 1:39 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Our custom MPON solution uses dense wavelength-division multiplexing to prism split bandwidth colors for separate allotment under unified admin, allowing for high volume packet transfer over wavelength in a secure optical channel, security enhanced via FIPS Layer 1, which is both NIST-compliant and AES-256 dense, with hitless key rotation every second. Not only is the entire process is backed by elliptic curve cryptography algorithms and certificates, but it's got Diffie-Hellman secured key negotiation (including Elliptic Curve). The whole thing easily integrates into PKI via x.509 based auth. SNMPv3 support included as well, naturally.

(That one is real and from my job.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:39 PM on August 26 [9 favorites]

No interest in land is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than twenty-one years after some life in being at the creation of the interest. (This is the common law Rule Against Perpetuities.)
posted by hhc5 at 1:44 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "The pyrrhotite group includes a number of iron monosulfide phases based on the nickel arsenide structure displaying various superstructures caused by ordered vacancy geometries in the nonstoichiometric composition."
posted by cubeb at 1:57 PM on August 26

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posted by TheRaven at 2:02 PM on August 26 [11 favorites]

I knew I hung onto my library science textbooks for a reason! I'll come back with something good this evening.
posted by SaharaRose at 2:13 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]

From something I worked on this week: No filming of staff members in offices, workrooms, and other non-public areas can occur unless those persons grant their consent to be filmed.
posted by box at 2:14 PM on August 26

Perhaps you would enjoy Steve Martin's plumber joke. About.
posted by amtho at 2:17 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is a classic, Judith Butler's winning sentence in the journal Philosophy and Literature's 1998 Bad Writing Contest:
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
Butler is brilliant, but this one got away from her.
posted by Scarf Joint at 2:18 PM on August 26 [14 favorites]

DirtyOldTown, brilliant reference. Yes, almost any of the integral principles of the Structural Dynamics of Flow would do the trick.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 2:34 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]

DirtyOldTown you just explained why I almost instantly fall asleep standing up at every company all hands.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:58 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]

From my own stuff, sadly:
Methane has somewhere between 25 and 34 times the warming potential of CO2. About 3,700 tonnes of methane were emitted across Canada in 2020, but this is equivalent to at least 92,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (written as 92,000 CO2e – see footnote ), representing about 14% of total GHG emissions for that year.
posted by sonofsnark at 3:03 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]

The Taylor principle, defined within ASME Y14.5M - 1994 by Rule #1 states that the limits of size of a regular feature of size prescribe the limits within which the size and form are allowed.
posted by muddgirl at 3:05 PM on August 26

In order to schedule a job, you must first create a job object, and then add it to a flow or create a new flow. A deployed flow is a group of jobs and their dependencies that have been deployed for scheduling.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 3:07 PM on August 26 [7 favorites]

We want a clean, modern design.
posted by synecdoche at 4:00 PM on August 26

Not only is the entire process is backed...

As it is real and from your job, I'm pointing out that it has an extra "is".
posted by inexorably_forward at 4:21 PM on August 26

Joyce Carol Oates.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:23 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]

The acceptance criteria are met.

(Boring can be a good thing).
posted by Tandem Affinity at 5:29 PM on August 26 [2 favorites]

"The basic deployment of the proprietary operating system requires additional modification in order to communicate with the home operating system that we tweaked for this instantiation of the faceted branching project. For multi-faceted projects, the basic deployment works fine, but you might want to review the interface to be sure it meets your criteria."
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:01 PM on August 26

"Subsequent deep dives will further refine this wavetop perspective and scaffold further recommendations for capability uplift prioritisation."

Internal auditors who have done the bare minimum, have no idea what needs to happen next, and want somebody else to figure that out.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 6:16 PM on August 26 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My go-to for boring thing has always been the infield fly rule. From “An infield fly is any fair fly ball (not including a line drive or a bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort when first and second or first, second and third base are occupied, before two men are out.”
posted by Xalf at 7:01 PM on August 26

OK, now I'm feeling bad about making fun of Judith Butler.

With great hubris, I'm barely adequately or else inadequately rewriting her baddest sentence of 1998:
We moved from a view where capitalism controls everything we can learn, talk, and think about regarding our current and likely future relations with other people, to a view where the same conversations can change over time, and we can begin to conceive that we have more agency to change social structure and learn how to collectively resist the old ways and strategize to articulate our actual power.
I admire Butler a lot, and I think this almost incomprehensible thing is still useful today. As is almost everything that flows before and after.
posted by Scarf Joint at 8:22 PM on August 26 [3 favorites]

I and my coworkers were recently strongly exhorted to "become comfortable with being uncomfortable."

I kid you not. I am not saying it holds a candle to some of the other awesome sentences above, but it did leave me wondering if I was actually inside of a Dilbert cartoon.

Does this mean that once we have become comfortable with being uncomfortable that there will ensue a steady state situation where we no longer hold any positive or negative opinions about the demands of our jobs (kind of like the heat death of the universe)?
posted by forthright at 8:22 PM on August 26

Best answer: Thorstein Veblen's Theory Of The Leisure Class has deeply affected the way I view the world, but it is not easy to read. "The various elements of the prevalent human nature are taken up from the point of view of economic theory, and the traits discussed are gauged and graded with regard to their immediate economic bearing on the facility of the collective life process. That is to say, these phenomena are here apprehended from the economic point of view and are valued with respect to their direct action in furtherance or hindrance of a more perfect adjustment of the human collectivity to the environment and to the institutional structure required by the economic situation of the collectivity for the present and for the immediate future." (from Chapter 10: Modern Survivals of Prowess)
posted by shirobara at 8:30 PM on August 26

The horizontal scanning frequency shall be 2/455 times the color subcarrier frequency; this corresponds nominally to 15,750 cycles per second (with an actual value of 15,734.264+-0.047 cycles per second). The vertical scanning frequency is 2/525 times the horizontal scanning frequency: this corresponds nominally to 60 cycles per second (the actual value is 59.94 cycles per second).
posted by credulous at 9:28 PM on August 26

“Faculty members who have received an offer of temporary transfer/secondment outside of the bargaining unit shall be, for the period of transfer/secondment, as a minimum, under the terms and conditions of this Agreement except as specified herein.”

I am a union steward. I had to refer to the equivalent of this sentence in my college’s collective agreement a few weeks ago to help a faculty member.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:00 PM on August 26

Bioquant Alan Sokal had a paper published in Social Text in 1996 "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" to show that you can get any woofle past an editor anxious for copy if you pitch it right; read on . . . It has thus become increasingly apparent that physical ``reality'', no less than social ``reality'', is at bottom a social and linguistic construct; that scientific ``knowledge", far from being objective, reflects and encodes the dominant ideologies and power relations of the culture that produced it; that the truth claims of science are inherently theory-laden and self-referential; and consequently, that the discourse of the scientific community, for all its undeniable value, cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized communities
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:19 AM on August 27

Geez. I (thankfully) can’t think of a single sentence out of the thousands that uniquely stands out, but it definitely has to do with color theory. Open a book somewhere in the middle and take your pick.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:59 AM on August 27

"In the sprint retrospective, the team performed a fishbone analysis from which Kevin took an action which yielded four investigative spikes providing improvements to our processes managing WIP limits."
posted by k3ninho at 4:08 PM on August 27

Have you ever heard of the Rockwell Retro Encabulator? A fine piece of satire that still goes around the internet over a decade later

Rockwell Retro Encabulator on YouTube
posted by McNulty at 6:41 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]

I was coming here to suggest something from the Retro Encabulator. It has the bonus of being something that most engineers would recognise straight off, yet being a (mostly?) opaque to those outside the field.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:41 PM on August 28

I am an accountant. The looong sentence at or near the beginning of The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace, bored me to tears. I abandoned that book in the first paragraph, probably around page 34.

Ohmygod, Midnight Skulker, I came into this thread specifically to recommend that book as a treasure trove of boring sentences. It took me until about halfway through it to realize that Wallace is using boredom as a rhetorical device, intentionally making the reader's eyes glaze over before landing the best lines in the novel. (He gives it away in the chapter that literally consists of hundreds of repetitions of "and then X turned the page")

So yeah, if you want stultifyingly dull accountant-speak, you want The Pale King.
posted by Mayor West at 6:46 PM on August 30

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