Sunday, June 22, 2008

Proactively efforting to impact the thought showers.

Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.

-George Orwell-

adies and Gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to award the Human Voices Doctor Syntax award to Simon Milton.
"Why do we have to have 'coterminous, stakeholder engagement' when we could just 'talk to people' instead?"
said the Chairman of The Local Government Association, an organization that represents local government officials in England and Wales. I love this guy.

Pretentious and impenetrable babble has metastasized into every English speaking part of the world like verbal melanoma; from business schools, PR firms, popular science TV shows and journalistic covens, and it's a rare writer or speaker who doesn't effort try to include as many copies of "empowerment, " "proactive" and "Impactful" in every sentence he excretes.

Why does anyone need a clumsy, worn out metaphor like "negatively impacted on" when hurt or harmed will do so much better? Of course our institutionalized horror of appearing illiberal by using direct language is responsible for much of it. Careers have been made by those who marshal groups to speak for non-existent "communities" so as to ban words that aren't really offensive to anyone other than graduate students eager to cooperate with professors who need to publish.

Brainstorming, itself a crapulous and unfunny metaphor for talking amongst a group, seemed, or so we were given input told, to be offensive to epileptics even though there is no evidence of it negatively impacting on annoying anyone. Let's call it "thought showering" said one British City Council. Let's not. Let's just call it pretentious babble posing as enlightened vocabulary.

Let us please have a round of applause for Mr. Milton!


d.K. said...

I've noticed now that every journalist or talking head has to include "brand" when they mean "image"... Even if they have to concoct the context, "branding" and "brand" find their way into almost every report. It drives me nuts.

Capt. Fogg said...

Me too - they should all be tied up and branded.