Doubletalk and bafflegab

Doubletalk and bafflegab

Postby meteorite » Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:29 pm

One of the problems of trying to commit serious journalism these days - especially in the political or business fields, though many others such as the social sciences and technology are also difficult, is the constant introduction of new jargon and the subtle misappropriation of fine old existing words to new uses, usually as a euphemism or cover-up for the real term. It is only recently that "gay" has referred to sexual orientation instead of good-humoured and light-hearted, for example. My broken back is no longer crippled, it's disabled. Which leaves me challenged, not hurt. We no longer have foreigners or immigrants, just newcomers or future citizens, who may or may not belong to visible minorities but never a named ethnic group.

One of my pet hates is "redact", which has been a perfectly respectable word in the English language since 1432. It has a Latin root; in French an editor is a redacteur while the English choice for editeur is publisher. In English, redact essentially refers to the preparation of text for printing. But during the presidency of George W. Bush it was perverted into a cover word for censorship, and the habit has spread so that now even the Mayor's office in Toronto is using it. Under it the art and practice of censorship flourishes as never before, to the predictable detriment of the public good.

Sort of like when a corporate raider gets a grip on an enterprise in which you own a share, and announces he will "enhance shareholder value". Hang onto your wallet because you will soon see your dividends increase, with no mention of the fact that the money came from firing key staff, selling off the profitable operations, and leaving a gutted, valueless shell.

If you want a continuing education in the latest in jargon, buzzwords and euphemisms, a daily dose of the comic strip "Dilbert" will quickly provide an advanced education.

Meanwhile, others do share my dislike of this distortion of language - including one of the bloggers whose writings appears in the Tech Republic website and newsletter. Here's her take on some personal bugbears:

Most despised corporate buzzwords

By Toni Bowers
December 5, 2011, 2:33 PM PST

Do you have a particular buzzword that you hate? Here’s a whole list of them!

CareerBuilder asked 5,000 workers to choose the buzzwords they hated the most. I thought the list was interesting because I cannot believe anyone with half a brain and/or an ounce of self-respect would continue to use these terms. Anyway, here are the top terms employees despise:

Outside the box (31%)
Low-hanging fruit (24%)
Synergy (23%) (This one I can’t believe. People still say this?)
Loop me in (22%)
Best of breed (19%)
Incentivize (19%)
Mission-critical (19 %)
Bring to the table (18%)
Value-add (17%)
Elevator pitch (16%)
Actionable items (15%)
Proactive (15%)
Circle back (13%)
Bandwidth (13%)
High level (10%)
Learnings (9%)
Next steps (6%)

My take on folks who use this sort of language is that they are, at best, intellectually lazy; perhaps even incompetent, but more often trying to divert attention from or disguise the misbehaviour they're engaged in.
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