Articles on language
Daily Mail, UK
Thousands of staff at HSBC have been told their jobs have been ‘demised'. Britain's most profitable bank came up with the bizarre jargon to describe its latest round of redundancies which involve more than 3,000 employees.' James Salmon and Sam Webb, 24 April, 2013.
The Week, UK
'Jargon and dogma: what reading list reveals about military. Future wars will be fought by British commanders well versed in the rhetoric of management schools'. Robert Fox, 23 April, 2013.
Passion, enthusiasm ...
'This meeting, which is the third in a series of six, will focus on explaining the approach of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), the benefits of participating and addressing community issues in the presence of statutory partners. The ABCD approach works on the basis of building on passion and enthusiasm, so at the end of that session we will be checking with people who would like to support this work by participating in future meetings.' Editor's Blog: Journalism and jargon-busting, Glen Ebrey, Croydon Today UK, 10 April, 2013.
The Courier Mail
Cut the fluff and duck the cliches as our language drifts away from plain speaking into mindless nonsense, Sue Wighton, 4 March, 2013.
A load of twaddle! MP slams ‘jargon-riddled’ NHS report
'The document is the most incomprehensible, opaque and jargon-ridden document I have read in the last 30 years.' Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton, UK. An example: ''There should always be the aim to de-escalate a patient's situation at the earliest opportunity so that most care is provided locally, and only when clinically necessary that the Ambulance Service and hospital care is provided.' Manchester Evening News, 9 April, 2013.
'Writing in the government has actually improved a lot, my friend tells me. The higher-ups insist that reports be written in plain language. That language, apparently, is Klingon.' Where the gobbledygook flows naturally, Roger Collier, 4 February, 2013
Let's lose the weasel words and take action, David Penberthy, 10 February, 2013.
Why do politicians use business jargon? by Sally Davies. 6 February, 2013.
Jargon still a plague on devolved council websites by Dan Jellinek , 6 February, 2103.
'Jargon exists to make people sound smarter but it also serves to alienate people who haven't caught up. It is the language of the insecure. People are annoyed by what they see as the mangling of their language but they also can't stand the pretentiousness of the people who string the those words together like beads on an ugly necklace.' Fiona Smith, Fifteen buzzwords I never want to hear again, 30 January, 2013.
The Chronicle Herald
'This being a new year, it's time to plunge out the jargon, overused phrases and weasel words that clogged up our our language in 2012. Let's pick out the lexicological lint and ban the idiotic idioms so we can make room for language that actually communicates something, or even a language that creates interest, beauty and joy. Our lovely English language has that potential, but if we don't call out the jargon junk, it will stumble and trip over itself.' Let's do away with jargon, going forward, Gail Lethbridge, 13 January, 2013.
'Staying with solutions, the next prize is the Martin Lukes Creovation Cup for combining two words to make something less effective than either. This was a crowded field as there was “solutioneering” from Yanmar, “innovalue” from the Taiwanese government and “sustainagility” from Atos Origin. All are truly creovative, but I'm giving the cup to Momentum UK, for claiming we live in a “phygital™” world. I particularly admire the use of the trademark.' Business is booming with champion language-manglers, Lucy Kellaway, 7 January, 2013.
New buzzwords on the horizon ... advertainment, growth hacker ...
'If there is one thing that we can rely on in 2013, it is the constant war against clear and simple language will be waged by the institutions and the PR and lobby companies.
The narcissistic bubble our technology advocates, or evangelists as they prefer to be called, is one where neither reality nor a check on hubris ever gains access. All that counts is if you can make your corporate buzzwords gain acceptance amongst your co-literacy deprived.' Andy Carling, 'New year, new jargon', New Europe, 3 January 2013.
People's Daily - China
'... there are a universal phenomenon in the officialdom that " with non-action comes no faults ", which is to say if a speech does not contain any substance and does not address any actual problem then nothing would go wrong and no responsibilities would have to be taken . Therefore , official jargon and empty words are more popular compared with telling the truth.' Survey : People expect officials to abandon official jargon, 13 December 2012.
Daily Mail - UK
'Among this year's winners was NHS North Staffordshire, which offered a baffling response to a bid to open a new pharmacy at Madeley Surgery. It wrote: 'There was not currently a gap on the spectrum of adequacy sufficient to conclude that the provision of pharmaceutical services is not currently secured to the standard of adequacy,' the committee explained as it rejected the application.' They're taking a dashboard approach to performance: Writers of gobbledegook named and shamed in Golden Bull awards, 11 December 2012.
'Gartner is drooling word soup after a clear overdose on jargon, in a new report that we can't make much sense of. We think it's something about improving businesses by getting people to work with each other in a virtual environment. Of course, the unique Gartnerese for such a suggestion is "cross-functional communication and collaboration".' Gartner spews jargon soup, TechEye.net, 6 December 2012.
Wisconsin State Journal
'That 59-page document approved by the Madison City Council in 2008 cost $59,000 in consultant fees and was designed to bolster the city's economic development over a three- to five-year period. Whether it's been of much use is hard for me to tell. It's filled with jargon — e.g., "Make the city economic development toolkit more strategic" — that I'm either too stupid or too literal to understand.' Chris Rickert, City economic development plan just more jargon?, 2 December 2012.
Inside Higher Ed
'However, comments by Dawn Freshwater, pro vice-chancellor for staff and organizational effectiveness, in the university's in-house magazine really stood out for sheer nebulousness. Talking about organizational effectiveness, she said: "We can reframe the way we define it, so that it's not viewed as simply foregrounding cost savings, but instead a much more complex interplay of influences and drivers that facilitate opportunities for enhancing the ways in which we manage movement."' Chris Parr, Clear as Mud 16 November 2012.
'Mr Duncan Smith replies to these cries for help with a blast of jargon. MPs respond in kind. In Scotland, we learn, there are only two "mental health champions to improve the making of capability assessments".' Duncan Smith and Pickles find their jargon jars by Simon Hoggart, 5 November 2012.
'And were counties ready for the storm? You bet. They were "fully engaged" in what one press release called "the pre-storm infrastructure work" which was "related to drainage structures." Translation? County crews were busy clearing sewers of debris. The exceptions were like a ray of sunshine beaming through a storm event.' Officials' jargon clouded clarity of some storm alerts, 29 October 2012.
'One of the explanations offered in the programme for the rise in jargon is the adoption by politicians of the language of the corporate world. And the crossover of corporate speak to the political class is perhaps particularly pertinent as we struggle in the wake of the global banking crisis. Phrases like quantitative easing, the Libor rate and recapitalisation are now common place.' Government gobbledygook under the spotlight by Felicity Evans, 28 October 2012.
Stock & Land
'An emeritus professor of linguistics at the University of Queensland, Roly Sussex, says there can be cachet associated with being known for calling a spade a spade, rather than a long-handled digging implement.' Is it time to buck the buzzword trend? by Sylvia Pennington, 25 October 2012.
'Certain words should set alarm bells ringing. Description of anything as "robust" is usually bad news because it implies effective measures are going to be taken, when this is unlikely.' Patrick Cockburn, 'Weasel words that politicians use to obscure terrible truths', 14 October 2102.
'Using office jargon in this way is what has people saying things like ‘action' instead of ‘do' and ‘core competencies' instead of ‘skills'. Unfortunately many of us forget that such language amplifies pretentiousness much louder than intelligence.' Lee Williams, 'Let's touch base on this office jargon', 25 September, 2012.
UK Daily Mail
'Coalicious or coaliffy? The staggering jargon that Whitehall spin doctors use to decide how well the coalition is getting on.' Matt Chorley, 17 September, 2012.
NSW Teachers Federation
'"Today's announcement reveals the government's true agenda in introducing its "Local Schools Local Decisions" policy, that is ripping resources out of public education, using weasel words like 'local decision-making', 'realignments' and 'efficiencies'.' President of the Teachers Federation, Maurie Mulheron in response to the state government is cutting $1.7 billion from public schools and TAFE colleges in NSW. 11 September, 2012.
82 Business Jargon Words to Watch Out For
'I am confident that, at the end of the day, we will gain some quick wins through onboarding then socialising the concept of eliminating jargon. Going forward, we will all be on the same page – indeed singing from the same song sheet – and be thinking out of the box when it comes to the language we utilise in the C-suite. Initially, it will be similar to herding cats, and the process will identify the square pegs in the round holes, but we will achieve some upside and a paradigm shift as we reach out and break the silos through the use of intelligible language.' Helen Slater, of Strata Communications in New Zealand, quoted on the Business 2 Community website, 16 August 2012.
'I'm being 'co-coached' by an 'outstanding' team of 'senior and middle management', and 'classroom practitioners' and 'fully engaged' in the 'forward thinking, thought shower' of 'cascading' ideas that is an academy in England. The word school and teacher are frowned upon here, centre for learning and educational facilitator are clearly far more appropriate.' Secret Teacher has had it with WALTS, WILFS and other education jargon 11 August, 2012.
Sydney Morning Herald
' We go looking for explanations of events, policies, issues, attitudes - and find the people in charge speaking a kind of cipher, a confection of platitudes and evasions, specious principles and untruths, weasel words and creepy assumptions. It's as if they're using ponderous High Latin for a cake recipe. It may be articulate but it doesn't tell you what to do if the egg whites don't whip.'
That's all good in theory, but here in the real world ... by Kate Holden, 8 August 2012.
'A team of experts has reviewed the new standards and found them appropriate for children of this age.
Meaning: The experts selected were college professors, think tank members, and private sector consultants who may never have taught children or spent any time observing in classrooms. Very likely, no practicing teachers were considered “expert” enough to be included in the team.' Education jargon: What ‘no excuses' and other terms really mean by Valerie Strauss, 2 August 2012.
Self migrating to a vitual vortex of relevance
'It is more than a year since Quoin signalled its move into the social media arena by issuing one of the most unintelligible ASX announcements of all time. The company statement said: ''Through ongoing normal social networking activity users will self migrate to a virtual vortex of relevance which results in the user participating in more of specifically what they target, thereby yielding a greater opportunity and capacity to monetise social networking sites and simultaneously making the sites more useful.''' The Age, 28 June 2012. Thanks to Ben Wadham.
'One of the most heartening stories of the past few days was that Alan Duncan, minister in the Department of International Development, had ordered his civil servants to stop using ear-torturing jargon. No more "going forward", this self-described "grammar fascist" warned. His department would not "showcase" or "mainstream" anything, nor would their policies "impact" anyone, his memo added, because "clear language conveys clear thought". Civil service goes forward to a jargon-free future, Andy McSmith, 27 June 2012.
Daily Mail UK
' Veteran BBC journalist John Simpson has told newly appointed director general George Entwistle to ‘hunt down and destroy any management jargon' in an open letter to his new boss. The respected 67-year-old broadcaster called on the corporation's new chief to cut out baffling internal language, which sounded like it came from North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un.' Seek and destroy all baffling BBC jargon, John Simpson tells new appointed director-general, 6 July 2012.
Ventura County Star
'... this kind of language strips away a certain level of humanity. When I speak with other people, I want to speak with a person, not a computer, not a robot and certainly not a corporate robot. We have enough of that in our lives.' Esha Chhabra: Too much jargon in today's society, 23 June, 2012.
'The government announced plans to reform the civil service on Tuesday. The scheme boils down to, "there'll be fewer of you, you'll have to work harder, and if you don't you'll be fired". Naturally they can't put it like that. Instead the whole thing was floated on a great flotilla of jargon. Francis Maude, the minister, used enough jargon to stuff a dead grizzly.' Civil service reforms launched on a flotilla of jargon by Simon Hoggart, 19 June 2012.
' ... Andrew Barr has announced Phase III and promised Labor will be “continuing to deliver on our commitment for more affordable housing”, which as strings of weasel words go is deserving of posterity.' 'Rejoice homeless of Canberra. Labor will continue delivering on its commitment to doing something!', RIOTACT, 15 June 2012.
'But in the bigger picture, the safety standards that used to set Australia above those of the rest of the world are sometimes being harmonised, or standarised, to world's agreed best practice, and that is on occasion nothing more than weasel words meaning dragged down to what is also the world's lowest permissible safety standard, because when it comes to aviation standards, they are one and the same.' Plane Talking, Crikey Blog by Ben Sandilands, 14 June 2012.
The Guardian UK
'When they gather in Rio, governments must restrain the flow of weasel words that is threatening to emasculate any agreement. They are not helping their people or the planet by"'noting", "recognising" or "emphasising". We need to see time-bound commitment and action words like 'will", "must" and "deliver".' WWF director general, Jim Leape quoted in 'Rio+20 Earth summit: leaked draft reveals conflict among countries' by John Vidal, 8 June, 2012.
'I've vented in this column a few times about my own pet dislikes. “Going forward” is top of the list right now. Oh, don't get me started or I'll be here all day, citing example (pre-plan) after example (actioning) of really stupid phrases (let's assess the granularity of that) that may originally be designed to make the user sound intelligent (strategic staircase), but which in reality make them sound dumb (my door's always open, let's touch base offline on that one). If you are confident as a speaker, as a communicator, you don't feel the need to “take the high altitude view” or the “360 degree view” or to “cascade” or “pipeline” information. You just tell it as it is.' Why all this jargon leaves me feeling sick as a parrot by Nuala McKeever, 21 May, 2012.
'... Transport Secretary Justine Greening asked people to re-mode in a promotional video . Specifically to "re-route, re-mode , re-time". Is this a real word or an example of government gobbledygook? According to the Department for Transport, re-mode means "to change the mode of transport that you use".' 17 May, 2012.
Chief Justice backed for attacking managerialism
' VICTORIA'S Chief Magistrate has backed criticism of the Justice Department by Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, saying justice administered by the courts cannot be measured in the same way as widgets.' The Age, 11 May, 2012.
' ... the public policy in India betrays two main drawbacks in respect of health, agriculture, and education. “The first is the repeated adoption of managerial…approaches and strategies, which simplify every problem to which they are applied, and thereby ensure policy failure….this policy failure is effectively camouflaged by the usage of managerialist terminology.”' Review of Public Policy & Citizenship: Battling Mangerialism in India, Arvind Sivaramakrishnan. 16 April, 2012.
CBS News on James Murdoch
'At his first appearance before the parliamentary select committee, James Murdoch threw jargon around with enthusiastic abandon. This gave the impression that he'd just emerged from his first year at business school, thus emphasizing his naivete, not his knowhow. Extensive use of jargon isn't just ugly; it always sounds like undigested, barely understood knowledge. The implication that your listeners will be dazzled is inadvertently but implicitly insulting.' 25 April, 2012.
The findings of the report into the causes behind last summer's riots fell back on that over-used piece of political jargon, the term "stakeholder" ... The modern notion that society is a business in which we are all shareholders is deeply flawed. Originally, the term related to money – in the 18th century, a stake was a bet or a wager. In the Wild West of America, stakeholders were farmers who fenced the parcels of land they had claimed with stakes and then lived and worked on it.' Janet Street-Porter, April, 2012.
The Melbourne Age
' As I type these words and phrases, squirming at their management jargon, I wonder whether we have all gone mad. Just stop for a moment and think about what these linguistic snapshots of life and language in Australian universities tell us about the priorities of our masters and planners. And be alarmed.' 'MyJargon rules', Morag Fraser, April 10, 2012
'You don't have to tell me. I know that I'm losing my long-running battle against the scourge of management weasel language. The all-powerful jargon junta is impervious to the derision that their convoluted corporate cant attracts. What most of us consider indecipherable sludge these preening nitwits consider masterstrokes of modern management communication.' D'Angelo Fisher, 'The jargon monkey trap', 21 March 2012.
Buton Mail, UK
'The ‘Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report' for the first stage of the ‘Sustainability Appraisal of the emerging Local Development Framework (LDF) for East Staffordshire' came under fire by John Morris, who sits on Rolleston Parish Council. “I showed this to my wife and she did not understand a word of it, and neither did I,” the former Rolleston ward council told a meeting of the parish.' Consultation paper is 'nothing but jargon' 15 March 2012.
'That the language they speak -- let's call it "educationese" -- leaves us scratching our heads bodes ill, I think, for parental involvement in the schools. Could that, he asked innocently, be the goal?' Rob Jenkins, 'If it's worth saying, it's worth saying so nobody can understand', 17 March 2012.
The Star, Ontario
'One of the reasons the 12-volume study hasn't received much coverage is its heavy use of jargon. Here is an excerpt from last week's release: “Health equity cannot be achieved without moving upstream and addressing the root causes of disease in the social determinants of health. A multi-faceted approach is required to tackle the many complex problems which contribute to greater chronic disease prevalence and poorer health outcomes in some groups.”' Women in the dark about massive Ontario study of female health, Carol Goar, 6 March, 2012.
'Team player. It may sound innocuous, but be wary that this innocuous phrase really means that you'll take whatever the bosses dish out, "for the team." "Team player is code phrase for someone who will allow us to do whatever we want to you," Fleming explains.' The Hidden Meaning Behind Phrases in Job Ads, Melanie Pinola, 28 February, 2012.
'For daily samples, try the daily media; the strong of stomach might look up the 'Mission Statement' of their employer. Not even universities are immune from re-branding, hyper-marketing, managerialism, bureaucratese and other such forms of gobbledygook. It is hardly surprising that weasel words are proliferating in the marketing of war.' Dulce et decorum : the marketing of war, Ken Macnab, 27 February, 2012.
'The gobbledygook vocabulary of government jargon is unreal. Try this: "consider and agree prioritisation, based on recommendations ; establish structures; design new hub and& spoke model of engagement; agree and implement new protocols; enact an applied research mandate; undertake a feasibility study to examine structures and policies; complete the review; undertake a review; accelerate the programme of re-evaluation; initiate the preparation; conduct market research and liaise with business representative groups ... " The mindless drivel is endless.' The Government needs to drop the jargon and deliver those jobs, 23 February 2012.
Daily Mail: Why Stuart Lancaster is either a genius or David Brent
'Lancaster's sport psychology ramblings, the management speak, the corporate rhetoric about 'success' and 'visions' only really works if you're winning and playing well. In a losing team, in an underperforming outfit, it very quickly begins to sound like vacuous gobbledygook.' Luke Bendedict, 15 February, 2012.
Buzzwords are a load of bull
'I was in a meeting with a potential client innocently discussing an upcoming conference program when 'Mr Buzzword' slimed me with the worst management speak I've ever heard.
"Let's stir-fry that in the ideas wok!"
I looked around in horror at the other people in the meeting (all employed by Mr Buzzword) as they all just nodded accordingly, thinking that stir-frying in the ideas wok was a perfectly legitimate cause.
So why is it so many seemingly reasonable people resort to management speak? Are they insecure and trying to hide behind fancy words or do they think it's actually impressive to roll out barrels of business cliches?' Andrew May, The Age, 14 February, 2012. And a list posted by MC in the comments section:
'Burning platform, Decision tree, Blue sky, Straw man, Granular, Debt picture, High-high, Continuous development of government learning, Blurbage, Gateway review, Socialisation / socialise, Verbage, Design and realisation, Usually unallied with technology/service providers,
Value uplift implications, Come to a landing, Circle the wagons, Ergo, (SME) Subject matter expert, Triaging, Bandwidth, Strawman deck, Descope, Harvest learnings, Ghost pack, Value proposition, Parking lot, Change journey, Pinch point, Delta, Stranded asset, Dashboard, High-level, Harvey balls, Safe pair of hands, Tone from the top, Top down approach, Capacity, Deep dive, Elevator test/speech, Touch base, Take offline, Quick wins, Sniff test, Wordsmith, Facetime,
Traction, Band aid solution, Bleed over, Nebulous umbrella, Bug fixing, Touch points, Norming, Inflight projects, Rubber hitting the road, Elevator speech, RAGS (red amber green), Self edit,
Express lane, Greenfield project, Uptick, leadership carriage, readthroughs, hasten slowly.'
Any fool can see it's about floating the tumbleweed - The Telegraph
'Outside the box, driving it forward, pushing the envelope: it's all drivel, spouted instead of words that convey specific meaning. The moment they open their mouth, they reveal the emptiness of their thoughts. They behave as if they are making insightful, original suggestions. But it's the opposite. They parrot phrases that mean nothing.' ' Stephen Pollard, 8 February, 2012.
'The Cordant Group describes itself as "a national leader in managed people solution provision". We ran that through our jargon decoder and found out they are one of the UK's biggest gangmasters with a turnover of £439million.' Tax breaks for workers barely making the minimum wage go to their bosses By Nick Sommerlad, 8 February, 2012.
'Business is fond of introducing new ways of abusing the English language. In his career, Risky business has witnessed countless chief executives in the US talking of “maxing the box while staying ahead of the zeitgeist of the envelope by leveraging existing core competencies to distribute growth to corporate centers” while minions and media alike nod sagely. Don Watson's excellent book Death Sentence has much more of this. But I digress. Reinsurance giant Munich Re has been telling us all about MEGAcities and that we like living in them. Aside from introducing the term MEGAcities, Munich Re has some very interesting things to tell us about how risky living in these MEGAcities is.' Risk Magazine, February 2012.
Jargon Madness Game
'The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or join a tiger team, by all means do it. Just don't say you're doing it. Because--and please believe us--all that meaningless business jargon makes you sound like a complete moron ... Each day, for 32 days, readers will get to vote, via Twitter ... The goal: to identify the single most annoying example of business jargon and thoroughly embarrass all who employ it and any of these other ridiculous expressions.' Forbes, 25 January, 2012.
10 Management Terms You Can Use To Sound Smarter Than Everyone Else
'Following our critical view of what we saw as the worst management terms of 2011, we were delighted by the general response and to find such common concern over the diabolical increase in management jargon. But why, if we know it is so dreadful, do we let it persist? We have decided that it's most definitely a power game — an arms race. The holders of the newest and most convoluted terms are deemed to be the more superior.' Macro Man, Business Insider, 14 January 2012.
The Spokesman-Review, Condon team big on ideas – and jargon
'Best practices for delivery of policing services. No one ever used a phrase like that unless it was destined for a PowerPoint presentation, the world's No. 1 sleep aid. The transition team, in presentations to the mayor at City Hall, invoked every sweaty old warhorse from the stable of word-like bureaucratic communication, from “stakeholders” to “benchmarks,” from “best practices” to “strategic alignment,” from leveraging opportunities to mitigating costs, from “Don't reinvent the wheel” to “Challenge the status quo.” ... this language has an agenda. It is employed for various purposes that are additional – and sometimes contradictory – to letting people know what's going on. The ubiquity of these phrases, from higher ed to boardrooms to government panels to staff meetings, is an argument against them: As soon as every single administrator in America has said the same things a gazillion times, the words become utterly empty. Shawn Vestal, 13 January 2012.
Rewarding outstanding achievement in the Jargon Age. Irish Times
'Now for a sectoral prize, given to the most heroic attempt by a management consultant to overcomplicate matters. I was tempted to give it to the senior partner at a big four firm who told the Financial Times: “The challenge for me is to re-aggregate the big picture, while throwing my arms around as much of the density of complexities as possible, distilling them down to their most basic constituents and plugging them back into the big picture.” But I decided he needed a holiday more than a prize, so am giving the gong to a consultant at McKinsey who said: "The assessment was based on international methodology and on ground-truthing". Luke Kellaway, 9 January 2012.
Let's junk the jargon, please — I'm just sayin', Chronicle Herald
'The words people use are their choice. And the impressions left behind, well, that's our choice, too. What the jargon junkies fail to grasp is the self-damage inflicted by their insider cliches, insincere apologies and language of banality. The message they end up sending may be that they're a pompous jerk rather than a technological evangelist.' Gail Lethbridge, 8 January 2012.
SEE the ball, hit the ball, writes Andrew Faulkner.
'A review of the game came up with some plainly spoken recommendations, such as girding club cricket, making stars play more state games, and nurturing spin bowling. But it also delivered a muddle of the management jargon that is killing our language. Indeed, parts of the report might have been written by a council bureaucrat. "The matrix management structure proposed facilitates open collaborative discussion to achieve the desired outcomes," the review concluded. One paragraph, so many weasel words sucking the life out of the sentence's meaning. If it had any to start with, of course.' Adelaide Now, 17 December 2011.
BRW - Write and badly wrong
'The estimable Don Watson has popularised them as “weasel words” – those turgid, convoluted, self-important phrases and faux terminologies that have dragged official communication into its present day morass. Daily we are confounded by politicians, bureaucrats and business leaders who appear to be communicating while saying absolutely nothing, or just as likely the very reverse of what they appear to be saying ... As Don Watson notes in his seminal 2003 book, Death Sentence: the Decay of Public Language , the scourge of management language has infected every reach of society to “vandalise the language” beyond recognition ... Memos are rich with impoverished language and inflated egos. The preening self-regard of managers who favour management-speak fairly oozes from every meaningless word uttered. Were they not so hilarious they would be heart-breaking. ' Leo D'Angelo Fisher, BRW, 15 Dec, 2011.
Coaxing “Outside the Box” Back In: The Worst Corporate Jargon Offenders
'Hey! It's mission-critical that we circle back on this very important matter of corporate jargon in the workplace. Let's focus on the low-hanging fruit with a small group first and then loop everyone in. Being proactive about our learnings will really incentivize the group to focus on the most critical action items and value-add for maximum impact. Let's start high level, drill down from there, and circle back after lunch to figure out next steps.' Career Builder Community, 6 Dec, 2011.
San Francisco Chronicle- Important city information too often wrapped in inpenetrable prose
'Take the Central Market Economic Strategy report ... The plan is “an iterative document” that also is “aspirational.” It's important that “the energy and resources of the City and its partners should be directed toward catalytic activities. Strategies that are likely to be implemented without intervention should be de-prioritized” ... It's certainly not just the city that's to blame. State and federal reports are equally eye-glazing and education papers have an impenetrable dialect all their own ...' San Francisco Chronicle, 1 December, 2011.
The Daily Mail, UK - Rail firms are told to ditch the jargon over train delays
'Under the new rules, train companies, station operators and Network Rail will have ‘a fundamental obligation' to dispense with gobbledegook. Among jargon excuses highlighted by passengers were 'poor railhead adhesion' which really means slippery tracks. The announcement ‘passenger action' could be anything from abuse of staff to opening doors on moving trains.' Mail Online, 1 December, 2011.
I'm all for cuts to frontline services, if they stop 'media liaison officers' leaving people to die in mineshafts.
'Mr Stewart's justification for his actions were peppered with that dreadful jargon that all ambitious commissars have to master if they are to progress to suit level. The rescue plan was not within his ‘remit'; it was ‘not my intention to allow any more resources into that shaft'. You have to sit through a lot of pencil-sucking management seminars to come out with that sort of tosh. No wonder he had forgotten how to rescue people.' , Robert Hardman, Daily Mail, 18 November, 2011.
'The elision of business-speak with the foggy verbiage of warfare is perhaps the most deranging aspect of the contemporary arms trade.' 'Why euphemism is integral to modern warfare', Will Self, BBC, 29 October 2011.
'Remuneration consultants, a small parasitic group providing a fig leaf justification for high salaries, helped ratchet up the pay
and bonus levels throughout the economy.' Dr Diane Coyle quoted by Ross Gittins in The Age, 17 October, 2011.
'Author Mal Peet has accused politicians talking about the importance of community of using "weasel words" unless they defend libraries.' TheBookseller.com, 5 October, 2011.
'From a rescue fund called the EFSF to another known as the ESM, by way of a SPIV trust and an FTT levy, the acronyms and other labels generated by the European Union's fight to contain its sovereign debt crisis range from the arcane to the bizarre.
As pressure escalates on the EU to solve the chaos, so does the tome of technical jargon for programs aimed at regaining stability. But often the capital-letter-laden alphabet soup ends up causing more confusion than it's designed to resolve.
The EU's increasing power, from a new diplomatic corps to a push for more oversight over national budgets, also raises questions over whether it uses jargon to communicate internally, or whether it uses the mystery to its advantage.' Reuters, 31 October, 2011. Thanks Dey Alexander.
'When one considers the verbosity, redundancy, tautology, imprecision, indigestible bureaucratese and managerial waffle that passes for commercial writing these days, there can be little doubt that otherwise productive time is exhausted in unnecessary interpretative effort. An employee could easily spend at least 15 minutes re-reading material that wasn't clear on first reading and seeking clarification.' Geoffrey Marnell's Letter to the Editor, The Age, 18 October, 2011.
'FOR such little signs, they have caused a lot of confusion.
Their purpose is to save your life in a bushfire - yet they make no reference to bushfires. They begin with a three-letter abbreviation. They end with four words in small type.' Signs of confusion, life saving or face saving? The Age, 25 September, 2011. Thanks to Dey Alexander.
'Research by The Scotsman has unveiled similar examples of Orwellian doublespeak, military hubris and over-optimistic analyses dating back to the start of the war. Almost every year since 2001 has been described as "critical" or a turning point. The Taleban have been beaten, scattered, spent and - according to official statements - they are constantly under pressure.' 'How spin has hidden the true cost of Afghanistan', Jerome Starkey, The Scotsman, 17 September 2011.
'We're not sure if those who use this cryptic dialect actually think they sound smarter or are just attempting to solidify their membership in some sort of exclusive corporate tribe, but—we beg you—step away from the jargon.' 'Office Jargon: 6 Tired Work Buzzwords To Avoid', Anneke Jong, The Huffington Post, 23 September, 2011.
'As an Aboriginal interpreter in the Top End, Ms Gapany is the crucial link between indigenous territorians, many of whom speak English as their third or fourth language, and white Australia. But just being able to speak English isn't preparation for the strange dialects of Centrelink and other bureaucratic departments. When describing her job, Ms Gapany says, ''I've been learning jargon languages that every [government] organisation uses with their clients.''' Interpreters deciphering govt-speak jargon, Michael Inman, The Canberra Times, 11 Sep, 2011.
'Until the mid-1990s no one wrote about low-hanging fruit unless they were writing an article about the location of, well, fruit.' A leading solution for clarity optimisation... by Tim Phillips, September 2011.
'Mr Hammond agreed. "There will still be a need for assisted channels …"
"What are assisted channels?" asked Mr MacShane.
"I will tell you what assisted channels are," said Mr Hammond, then didn't.
New technologies would take over. We would be booking tickets with our mobile phones, for example. "But there will still be a need for an assisted channel, and we will ensure there is one."
It began to dawn on some of us that an "assisted channel" was the new jargon for an old-fashioned booking office, in which you ask a real human being for a standard class single from, say, Birmingham to Rotherham, and the twinkle-eyed fellow says, "That'll be £348 please!"' UK train travel like the Orient Express? That's rich, Simon Hoggart, guardian.co.uk, 15 September, 2011.
'TOURISM Tasmania has been rapped over the knuckles for using jargon instead of plain English.
Auditor-General Mike Blake said the frequent use of terms such as "driving visitation", "accelerating preference" and "non-traditional travel intermediaries" made it hard to tell if the agency's strategies were successful.' The Mercury, 2 September, 2011
'Prior to commencing any active operational strategies within the boundaries of this structure you are respectfully requested to notify the customer service staff at the initial contact station. Is it a joke? Surely they had a bet: a carton of beer for the person who could write the most long-winded, pompous, incomprehensible and ignorant claptrap in the history of the human tongue.' 'Weasel words off the scale', Colin Pearce, Townsville Bulletin, 2 Sept. 2011.
'That's the word to keep hold of: debt. Ignore the financiers' jargon – bond yields, credit default swaps, hedge funds – which make finance sound like quantum physics, a fearfully abstruse subject beyond the grasp of ordinary mortals.' 'Financial jargon is all Greek to me save one word – debt.' Peter Wilby, guardian.co.uk, 5 August, 2011.
' ...'the spokesperson released a gobbledygook statement that says "human trafficking remains a priority for this government" and suggests that somehow OCTIP "remains a distinct entity with a clear focus and mandate."
... In plain English, OCTIP has been swallowed by the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Branch of the solicitor general's ministry.
Apparently, the 100 staff there weren't busy enough already with victims-of-crime services, violence-against-women programs and crime-prevention initiatives.' B.C. flags in fight against human trafficking, Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun August 4, 2011.
'Politicians ... bobbing, weaving, and sidestepping around prickly issues, using weasel words to distract your attention, and evading questions by steering the topic back to thoroughly memorized talking points.' 'New Devil's Dictionary: Glossary for fiscal Armageddon', Terry Ponick, The Washington Times, 28 July, 2011.
'But in most cases, leaders who say we need to “cut some capacity” when what they really mean is firing people, or who talk about “incentivizing” employees instead of just simply motivating them, are using such language for no other reason than to veil what they really mean. To me, people who use such lingo are either trying to avoid actually speaking the painful thing they have to do, or trying to make it sound like what they're doing is more complicated—and therefore worth more in terms of reward or promotional opportunity—than it really is.' Jena McGregor, PostLeadership, Washington Post, 12 July, 2011.
'In Lansley's world, people are forever "commencing substantial piloting". Nobody ever talks to the people who might be affected; instead they "engage with stakeholders". Thus, "we will engage with stakeholders including the trade-offs". Stakeholders are important because "they are a key part of the broader picture" and "we want to hear stakeholders' priorities for action".
I couldn't help but have a vision of carers in a home holding small pieces of steak on teaspoons, warning the residents not to get the meat stuck between their teeth, before turning to engage with Mr Lansley.' 'Andrew Lansley's monkey puzzles', guardian.co.uk, 5 July 2011.
'WHY is so much of the language around art such incomprehensible crap? It's a serious question prompted by several quality (but not necessarily serious) minutes of online engagement spent on a web site called the "Arty Bollocks Generator".' 'Gobbledegook at the press of a button' by Marcus Westbury, The Age, 4 July, 2011.
'Unfortunately, education has become an area where jargon is rife. The result is that very many parents - and probably many in the profession too - feel excluded. "The new factfile is certainly a step in the right direction: the next step is to move away from the jargon completely."' 'School chiefs issue 'jargon buster' for parents', NEWS.Scotsman.com, 28 June 2011.
'Stellenbosch Business School's Frik Landman says even finance should not be over rated. “You only have to know two things: money comes in and money goes out.” Perhaps that's why some people like jargon, to give their job mystique it doesn't deserve.' 'At a loss for words' by David Furlonger, Financial Mail, 23 June 2011.
'The core of it as any experienced financial commentator will tell you is to demonstrate your decades of experience compared with the common man, while describing as accurately as possible your view that any possible outcome is possible over any time period without excluding anything with the objective being to enable you to claim credit for or disclaim credit for any and every outcome in hindsight at a later date without responsibility for anything bad while remaining popularly optimistic at all times.' Marcus Padley writing about a recent Henry Blodget article in the Business Insider in the US. Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 2011. Thanks to Ben Wadham.
'The Olympic champion of sleep-inducing jargon must be the word "paradigm." It didn't take long for the P word to make its appearance in the Judaism 2030 report: "My present concern is that Jewish community -- and certainly Jewish education -- has been in a totally isolationist paradigm for a long time."' David Suissa, The People of the Jargon, Huffington Post, 16 June 2011.
'The only way to reverse the decline in membership of the party is to give sovereignty to the membership. You can't use the passive voice to state things like 'the rank and file must be empowered' or weasel words like that. To give power to the membership you have to take it from somewhere else and that means trade union officials and the parliamentary parties.' Rodney Cavalier, a former minister in successive NSW governments in the article 'No light on the hill' in The Age, 14 June 2011.
'My eyes glaze over whenever I hear talk about being on the 'same page', about 'going forward', 'key drivers', stuff that's 'mission critical', taking the 'viewfinder' over the 'mission statement' and seeing what's at the end of the 'digital tunnel', with the 'low hanging fruit' and 'key drivers'. And the list goes on.' 'Mind your jargon', Management Line, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May, 2011
'Educators apparently adore alliteration: "Scaffolding for success," "ramp up for rigor and readiness," "data-driven," "drilling down," "authentic assessment," "teaching to the test," and "rigorous research."' 'The Joys of Educational Jargon', John Merrow, Huffington Post, 25 April, 2011.
Remove the jargon delivery programme, going forward
'Is it too much to ask that people write and talk in plain English? Healthcare, the area in which I work, is a serial offender. "Portable care pathways", "patch-basing" and "co-morbidity" are just a few choice examples. It's all Greek to me.' Martin Edwards, Third Sector, 4 April 2011.
A War of Enlightenment Against Marketing Jargon
I've decided to put this marketing jargon in its place. The quadrant below classifies the most common phrases, sorted by degree of overuse and lack of meaning. Hover your mouse over a given phrase to see my snarky comments. Hunter Richards, The Software Advice Blog, 4 April, 2011.
'Customers' left baffled in council jargon increase
'TWO years after it promised more straight talking, the council is bombarding its 'customers' with more nonsense and jargon than ever before.' Guardian, 1 April 2011.
'It could be, you know, that "some output-based objectives" are "appropriate at a programme level" but that "other audience-focused outcome-based objectives are better suited to being set at channel/genre level". After all, "too much micro-management of audience objectives… at individual programme level runs the risk of creating not only perverse or unintended consequences but also of excessive bureaucracy".' BBC Trust suffers dramatic outbreak of jargon. The Observer, 27 March, 2011.
'On the term "conference demountable unit", used to describe a portable incident room, she said: "As far as I can tell, management jargon is taking over organisations and perfectly sensible, straightforward titles are being changed.' 7/7 coroner criticises use of 'jargon' by emergency service chiefs. Lady Justice Hallett says 'management speak' used by emergency services chiefs might not be understood. Alexandra Topping, 3 March, 2011, guardian.co.uk.
'All the favourite words of NGO-speak are now aired in the makeshift corridors and canteens of Juba, the fledgling capital. Top of the list are “empowerment”, “capacity-building” and “stakeholder” (not someone actually carrying a stake). “Governance”, “civil society”, “facilitators” and “disadvantaged” follow fast behind. British NGOs have a fondness for “focal groups”. Americans like anything that leads to “inclusion”, especially of the “excluded”.' The jargon of aid, Anyone here speak NGOish?, The Economist, 27 January 2011.
'If I can go stand in a corporate meeting and say, "We're going to have a blue sky strategy and circle the wagons," and six months later the company's in the toilet, I can say I didn't promise anything.' Patrick Gray, Prevoyance founder in the Charlotte Observer.
'The Pacific has a rich cultural and linguistic tradition. Hundreds of distinct languages are spoken in homes throughout our 14 countries ... However, none of our words are quite so exotic as the ones spoken by the climate change negotiator.' Marcus Stephen, president of Nauru and leader of the group of Pacific Small Island Developing States speaking at Cancun, Mexico. 'Nauru leaders fears death by jargon.' AFP.
'Bed numbers have been cut (using the weasel word 'reconfiguration'), thus increasing and delaying waiting times for patients, reducing the ability to run theatre lists efficiently and allowing the care of vulnerable patients in areas inappropriate to their needs.' Patients feel the real cost of hospital cuts, Belfast Telegraph, 20 December 2010.
'In its bureaucratic jargon, the board noted that “transportation facilities enhanced by public art elements provide aesthetic and cultural benefits to a community. These benefits can potentially result in positive economic development and increase tourism both locally and throughout North Carolina.”' 'Ashvegas: Asheville mural inspires state DOT' by Jason Sandford, Citizen-Times.com, 22 December, 2010
'The Excessive Use Of Weasel Words - Penalty System: Each staff member is allocated three and only three chances to use weasel words each day. You know, things like "transparency of communication", "organisational synergy" and "incentivisation".' 'Just get that moustache away from me' by Jo Thornely, The Daily Telegraph, 15 December, 2010
'The general breakdown of meaning is compounded by the mantra-like intensity with which corporate jargon is often used. During a speech by the managing partner of a leading City law firm at a press event over the summer, my fellow journalists and I counted 11 "going forwards" in five minutes. Amazingly, this level of repetition was trumped at a recent conference I attended, where a group of lawyers' passion for the term "added value" was such that at one point of anti-intellectual crescendo it almost became a chant. Judging by the looks on their faces, I think a few of them may have even reached some sort of corporate nirvana.' 'Lawyers should right-size their love of corporate jargon' by Alex Aldridge, 26 November 2010, guardian.co.uk.
'There's so much jargon, I get so mad ...There's a new term now: 'front-loading', like in a washing machine? I don't know what it means but I hope I'll find out here.' Maureen has been to several shows at an economics festival called Kilkenomics with economists and stand-up comics in Kilkenny, Ireland. BBC news, 18 November 2010.
'Some phrases have an alienation effect, where the bulky impenetrability of the language closes down the audience, sending us off on a flight of fancy or into a catatonic state. You'd need Ritalin to hear somebody say "General practice-led consortia commissioning healthcare services" even once, let alone four times, without switching off.' 'Jargon is spreading like nits in the coalition's playground' by Zoe Williams, 11 November 2010, The Guardian.
'If you've been reading too much “financial porn,” you might be tempted by the “skirt-length theory” and try to “buy the dips” of a “widow-and-orphan stock,” and then hope for a “dead cat bounce” so you can do some “naked shorting.” Those are all terms used in the business world, and among the entries in the new Financial Writer's Stylebook: 1,100 Business Terms Defined and Rated.' 'Stock Answers,A stylebook takes on financial terms'. By Merrill Perlman, 8 November 2010, Columbia Journalism Review.
'Jargon-Heavy Memo Elicits Collective 'What?' From Condé Nast Employees', Nate Freeman, The New York Observer, 28 October, 2010.
'...The usual bureaucratic buzzwords – delivery, conflict management etc – are two a penny, along with easily parroted phrases – "identity, locate, contain and neutralise the threat" – designed for rote-learning from a whiteboard at police college. Flow-charts communicate absolutely nothing.' Mary Dejevsky: Slash the jargon that obscures good sense, The Independent, 12 October 2010.
'Words like “transformative” and “impactful” are meaningless to the general public .... And the word “innovative” is just an effort to pump up existing efforts.' 'Nonprofits need to drop the jargon' by By Andrea Ball, 1 September, 2010, statesman.com.
'Most of the jargon is a deliberate smokescreen to confuse and befuddle the shareholders, which in the case of Anglo Irish Bank is you, your family and friends.' 'The bluffers' guide to banking jargon. . .' by Thomas Molloy, 1 September 2010, Independent.ie.
“The bankers who dealt in CDOs and SIVs and the like talked about them in their exclusive jargon. It was the story of the Emperor's New Clothes all over again… They pretended to understand the jargon, and insisted that everything was under control.” How lies undermine our security, D. Murali, 16 Sept 2010, The Hindu.
'Notwithstanding one's political affiliations, the language used by all of our political leaders has been almost exclusively utilitarian. It has become a statistical narrative of GDP and CPIs, of economics and markets, of ageing and life expectancy, of productivity and competition; to be fair it recognises a series of challenges with descriptions of ‘urban congestion', the ‘adequacy of infrastructure', and the impact on ‘housing supply'.'
Jonathan Mills: State of the Arts Lecture, The Age, 4 Aug, 2010
'Well now, I know what a key is and I know what a driver is, but neither piece of knowledge is much use here. The phrase "key driver" is a dead metaphor. More significantly it derives from the world of corporate jargon, which suggests that you think of yourself as a corporation. You are not a corporation. You are a public service. Indeed you are actually my servants. I am paying you to do a job for me. So rather than using the jargon that corporations use to cloud the truth, I'd prefer you to tell me the truth.' Joe Bennett, 'Dear Council, try saying sorry and dump the propaganda', The Southland Times, 28 July 2010
'The fire service today lives in a world of ‘blue horizon scanning', ‘windows of opportunities', and ‘mission critical tasking' – a world where all of us are told ‘you're not qualified to have an opinion, you must leave it to the experts'.' Peter Hope, of Hereford and Worcester Fire Brigades Union, 'Drop jargon and speak in language we understand!', Worcester News, 23 July 2010.
'It took just five minutes of Julia Gillard's opening speech of the election for Don Watson to switch off and lose all interest in Labor's campaign ... Mr Watson said that slogan [moving forward] was nothing more than a ''lump of dead meat'' ripped straight from the corporate world and its constant repetition was patronising to everyone listening.' Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2010.
'In the war logs they are labelled simply "green on green". But "green" is the military 's jargon for Afghan or "host nation" armed forces, and the accounts of more than 50 incidents where local troops opened fire on their comrades paint a vivid picture of the lawless quality of life in the country.' The Guardian, 25 July 2010
'Everyone has a good time, they enjoy their ropes experience, their climbing or their go-carting but it doesn't translate back to the workplace. Back in the work scene, the old patterns emerge, the old communication styles emerge. The same way of dealing with people stays.'
Dr Darryl Cross of Crossways Consulting, 'Corporate bonding events a "waste of time"', Caitlin O'Toole, news.com.au, 1 July 2010. And a comment on this article:
'The team leaders dressed up as the Wiggles. We played Wiggles games all day. Felt like I was in a pre-school, not an office. The only thing this achieved for me was losing all respect for my boss.'
'Instilling in law a wider sense of duty on the part of directors seems like a step in the right direction. It may not, in itself, ensure the success of Sants' ethical and cultural crusade. But it might let everybody see clearly that "shareholder value" is a piece of management jargon.' 'Hector Sants' good idea. The FSA's chief executive is right to want to enshrine in law that company directors think about more than shareholder value'. Nils Pratley, guardian.co.uk 17 June 2010.
'The list might include, proposed Nigel Hawkes writing in the British Medical Journal recently, "stakeholder" (as in "a comprehensive mapping exercise of local stakeholders"), which, he observes, tends to apply to those who have no stake other than bearing a banner saying "listen to me". "Committed" and "deliver" are similarly expendable, as in the hospital trust that aspires to being "fully committed to equip its staff with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to improve and deliver services".' 'Meaningless NHS jargon has got to go', James Le Fanu, Telegraph.co.uk, 31 May 2010.
'The language of commerce has now fully cemented itself in our vernacular, functioning the way sports, military, mafia and street slang has in the past: as a shorthand for when we're too unimaginative or lazy to come up with original sentences. In our business-and money-obsessed society, we've all become fluent in corporate-speak — even those of us who have never set foot in a boardroom or strategy meeting. Just call it synergy.' Teddy Wayne on the Speakeasy blog.
'The government is also accused of ''the worst traditions of management-speak'' by using timid words such as ''relocation'' instead of the stronger ''evacuation'', and for creating terms such as ''Neighbourhood Safer Places - Places of Last Resort'', which are better called ''shelters''.' Bushfire commission lashes government 'failures', by Michael Bachelard, The Sunday Age, 23 May, 2010.
China vice president calls for reducing jargon use. AAP
'... a new phrase. Fabrice's assertions that he must try harder to be a "firm culture carrier". I predict this will take off. It suggests that one can carry the Goldman culture in the same way one can carry a sexually transmitted disease.' 'Fabulous Fab is more frightening than you think', Lucy Kellaway, UK Financial Times, 3 May 2010.
'Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti. “When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.' 'We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint', by Elisabeth Bumiller, 26 April, The New York Times. From Mark Colvin from the ABC via George O'Farrell.
'“It's the nature of government business,” said Biaggi. “Governments need good solid legal language they can enforce, but sometimes this creates unclarity for the lay reader.”' Tahoe Regional Planning Agency wants to simplify its wealth of jargon, by Matthew Renda, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, 10 April 2010.
'Writing in a recent blog, Almonte, Ont. parent Chantal Hubert cited an oxymoronic line in her daughter Erin's first grade report card recommending that she "continue to develop communication ability using simple language." ' 'Schools expel report card jargon through pilot program', The Globe and Mail, 6 March, 2010.
'Florence Eavis from Holiday Inn said that they believe that getting rid of pointless jargon will help people concentrate longer in meetings. Thus, they are asking their guests to simply speak plain English. Holiday Inn is also offering more tips at their website.' ' New Anti-Jargon Campaign Launched by Holiday Inn' by
Sharon Miller, Self-Catering-Breaks News, 10 March, 2010.
'Why do we have to have a "webinar trialogue for the wellderly" when the public sector could just "talk about caring for the elderly" instead?' LGA Chairman Margaret Eaton, UK councils ordered to quit the jargon. CNN, 11 March, 2010.
'Our culture's unquestioning belief in the power of words may be turning into a blinding fundamentalism: ''Words will save us.'' To deal with the bushfire problem, a new set of words such as ''catastrophic'' has been strategically positioned to help protect the population, but close to sweet nothing has been done by government to create a standard domestic fire bunker ... I fancy that echolalia could well refer to a condition in modern media and their captive communities. Like the compulsive rocking back and forth of the radically distressed, echolalia could be a name for the repetitious, unstoppable going around and around of dead or dying ideas in the culture; the boring babble and banging on in the vortex of tribal media chatter.' Michael Leunig, 'Dead lemon tree syndrome', The Age, 13 Feb 2010.
'"Thinking outside the box" and "Let's touch base" were the most hated buzz phrases among the 1,836 people surveyed by Opinium research.' 'Does "thinking outside the box" drive you mad?' Reuters, 10 February. Thanks to Courtenay Rule.
'Workers choosing a cheaper lunch are said to be having a "credit munch", while businesses are bringing in "chainsaw consultants" to reduce the workforce. The fear of being "de-cruited" or "uninstalled" – terms for being fired – is enough to give any worker a "bog shaker", meaning a breakdown in the office loo.' Recession causes rise in office jargon, 23 Jan 2010, Telegraph.co.uk
2. The Most Slippery Corporate Euphemism for Job Cuts goes to the Nokia Siemens merger for this abomination: "Synergy-related head count restructuring." ...
4. For ungainly Verb-to-Noun Transmogrification, the winner is learnings, as in what "learnings" have participants taken away from this webinar. Oh, please. 'And the Gag Me Awards go to ...' By Gail Lethbridge, 8 Jan 2010. The ChronicleHerald.ca
'3,700 elephants found in offices last year (along with other meaningless jargon)'
5 January 2010 by Clare Baillie. NEWS.Scotsman.com
'... The constant repetition of the idea of ceaseless change tends to natualise it and turn it into an omnipotent autonomous force that subjects human beings to its will. This is a force that annihilates the past and demands that people learn to adapt and readapt to new experiences. From this standpoint humans do not so much determine their future as adapt to forces beyond their control.' From Frank Furedi's opening lecture at the recent Battle of Ideas conference in London.
'It came into the corporations beginning in the late 1980s as a way of calming people down during layoffs. You send the laid-off people to the out-placement firm, where they get pep talks on changing their attitude. The survivors need motivational speakers so they can do the work of two people.' Barbara Ehrenreich, interviewed on Bloomberg.com about her new book: Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.
'BELONGING? COMMUNITY? SHARED VALUES? These, surely, have become the weasel words of contemporary social analysis. Overblown and overplayed, they have been robbed of much of their meaning. They have come to sound more like mantras than social goals.' 'Real Communities' by Hugh Mackay, Griffith REVIEW
'Just as the US government rebranded the War on Terror as The Fight for a Better World in 2005, so many of us have abandoned the real, truthful yet uncomfortable word problem, and substituted the blandly depressing issue instead. It's the worst type of weasel word.' The issue issue
From: Talk Normal by Tim Phillips
'What's comedic about this is that the very evening after the forum, the hit NBC show “30 Rock” poked fun at terms like these. In one particular scene of Thursday's episode, the main character, Liz Lemon, is convincing her boss, Jack Donaghy, to allow their staff to go to Miami. Liz has a poster board that simply reads, “Miami = Synergy,” and she proceeds to say to Jack, “Cross-promotional, deal mechanics, revenue streams, jargon, synergy.”
Jack responds, “That's the best presentation I've ever seen. Get started right away.”' Trendy jargon may dazzle, but plain English is better, Purdue Exponent, 25 Jan 2010
'Big words don't equal a bigger brain. It has been said that intelligent people who are confident in their message and passionate about what they do don't need obscure language to communicate. In fact, studies have shown that professional communication filled with jargon comes across as rude, disingenuous or obnoxious while clearly expressed messages are perceived as energetic, truthful and friendly.' 'Buzz off, and leave jargon out of communications' by John McFerran. 16 Jan 2010. Winnipeg Free Press.
'Sebastian, the Ragan Communications editor, jokes that you'd never say: ''Hi honey, you really thought outside the box with that dinner -- those deliverables with the fresh vegetables were outstanding.'' So why talk that way in the office?' 'Workplace Lingo: The Good and Bad of Office Jargon'. Associated Press, 11 Jan 2010