Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Word Crimes gone viral!

It's everywhere. Trite, silly marketing jargon is creeping beyond its boundaries and is now infiltrating the social media!

Word Crimes! Don't forget to send me your favourite offenders for inclusion on this year's Bull@%#$ Bingo!

The below is reprinted from theage.com's Executive Style column. For your cringeworthy enjoyment, I submit:

Mind Your Jargon

Jargon is bad enough in the business world but social media is adding a whole new layer of gobbledygook, and it is sending me around the twist.

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.

Forbes writer Christopher Steiner, puts it well: “For people bent on achieving superstar status in the business world, knowing one language is often not enough. Unfortunately the second tongue most popular to many American corporate types isn't Spanish, German, French, Italian or Chinese. It's jargon, a heinous amalgamation of terms with unknown origins and delivered with no explanation, irony or even a crumb of guilt.”

Vanessa Horwell at Media Post has her own list that includes terms like “proactive” (which the dictionary defines as creating a situation or taking control of it, rather than just responding which, when you think about it, is the opposite of sitting around and waiting for things to happen), and sole survivor (the word sole is redundant because a survivor is the one person who survives) and, one of my pet hates, non-essential personnel (which basically dismisses the grunt workers keeping everything going as unimportant).

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, author Scott Berkun says jargon feeds and encourages lazy minds. “To use these words with a straight face is to assume the listener is an idiot. They are intellectual insults. They are shortcuts away from good marketing and strong thinking since they try to sneak by with claims they know they cannot prove or do not make any sense. Marketers and managers use jargon because it's safe. No one stops them to ask: exactly what is it you are breaking through? … Pay attention to who uses the most jargon: it's never the brightest. It's those who want to be perceived as the best and the brightest, something they know they are not. They use cheap language tricks to intimidate, distract, and confuse, hoping to sneak past those afraid to ask what they really mean.”

And indeed it might be getting worse. Julian Fernando argues that social networking sites and blogs encouraging people to contract words, and in effect create a new language.

“Clearly, there is enormous potential for the clarity of expression to be diminished, and for what reward? 'U' is hardly more efficient than 'you', and even less efficiency is gained from 'da' (although by saving those one or two characters you might be able to add a smiley face somewhere). LOL achieves far greater efficiency gains, but what does it mean? For a long time, my mother thought LOL meant 'lots of love'. Are we really such a society of comedians that we all burst out laughing at every text message we receive? Or has it become a ridiculous catchphrase (or catch-all phrase) to express anything from uproarious mirth to mild embarrassment (or nothing at all, as in 'I went to the shops, LOL').”

If he’s right, it means that social sites like Facebook are creating a new kind of jargon, adding to all those business buzzwords, and fogging up our language up even more.

What are the worst examples of jargon, buzzwords and language mangling you’ve heard?

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/executive-style/management/blogs/management-line/mind-your-jargon-20110521-1exh3.html#ixzz1NwYOpACn

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