SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS (special double-down-low edition): Potemkin village.


Welcome to another installment of SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why new words? Why not the old, familiar, comforting words?

It’s because a healthy vocabulary isn’t about trying to show that pesky CM Cappuccino that you’re brighter than him.

To the contrary, it’s about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one’s pay grade or station in life.

Even municipal corporate attorneys are eligible for this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, for those of us who want nothing more than to be able to comprehend why we pave a street knowing that it will be destroyed by construction a mere two months later … well, all we have is votive Oz time — and the opportunity to learn something.

Now for the meat. In historical fact, the phenomenon of the Potemkin village may or may not be true, but it’s a great story of fake building fronts erected to deceive a passing absolute monarch. After a few beers in New Albany, the notion of Potemkin village begins to blend with the tale of the emperor’s new clothes, and then you remember that scene in Blazing Saddles when the action shifts from fiction to film set.

First, a definition.

Potemkin village

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The phrase “Potemkin village” (also “Potyomkin village“, derived from the RussianПотёмкинские деревниPotyomkinskiye derevni) was originally used to describe a fake portable village, built only to impress. According to the story, Grigory Potemkin erected the fake portable settlement along the banks of the Dnieper River in order to fool Empress Catherine II during her journey to Crimea in 1787. The phrase is now used, typically in politics and economics, to describe any construction (literal or figurative) built solely to deceive others into thinking that some situation is better than it really is. Some modern historians claim the original story is exaggerated.

Next, an example:

There are times when New Albany is more Potemkin village than reality, when it seems that everything is done only for show and appearance, and nothing elemental ever really changes even as victory is declared and the next election looms.  

Photo credit.