Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Wymondham Festival Approaching: A Week of Lists 2

Ten phrases I have heard too often.

1. Let's be professional about this and follow proper procedure... - Fill out that form about the form we sent regarding the form you received last week / month / year / decade in an official language of our choosing for which no translation is to be provided.

2. The reality is...- There are various parallel universes in which this too is a reality.

3. In order to improve your experience of our...... - We are cutting fifty jobs, the answering service and the budget for materials while raising your bill.

4. I find that offensive.... - A highly refined form of bullying from a pair of tight white lips. The ultimate nuclear deterrent.

5. We have made it perfectly clear.... - 'I'm not answering that question.'

6. It's all in the White Paper... - 'I'm not answering that question.'

7. Radical, root and branch, seizing the opportunity with both hands... - You lot are getting your redundancy notices next week.

8. We're all in this together. - Well, you are. I myself am otherwise engaged.

9. We must educate the public... - Stand them on their heads and spin them round a few times. They're idiots anyway.

10. Health and Safety...... - Nobody move!


dana said...

My boss's favorite is "the reality is"--! Others of hers are "leverage," as in the dreadful "we will leverage this funding toward a greater impact," and "synergy." They all make me shudder. Though we sometimes play staff meeting bingo with these and other phrases. Winner must not shout out.

Anonymous said...

And how about this, seen by self recently in the corridors of a hospital, not a phrase exactly but an example of the silly-speak that seems to be proliferating :

"We invite you to become our hygienic hands partner"

which appears to mean "Please tell us to wash our hands if you think they're dirty"

which appears to mean "We know this is a hospital, and hospitals are supposed to be super-clean, but we really can't be bothered. But we want you to THINK that we're bothered. So that you're less likely to sue us if you/your relative catches something nasty during your/his/her stay with us."

Anonymous said...

As for 3, why is so much "an experience" nowadays ? I received an email the other day telling me to bring a print-out of some details to Manchester Airport this coming Sunday. Bringing the print-out will "improve my check-in experience", apparently.

I don't WANT any experiences at check-in ! I just want to check-in, fly away and THEN have some experiences.

George S said...

Synergy, partner and experience are all worth cataloguing. Interesting to trace back to early uses.

Language is continually developing such institutional devices that develop into monsters. I suppose what we need is the equivalent of Raymond Williams's Keywords, with more of Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary.

It would need continual updating of course, like the OED. Maybe the OED already does this tracking. I have various other dictionaries and will check.

The point of all this is to convey a relational attitude towards the subject / activity. Synergy = faintly cuddly, mystical. Partner = cool, businesslike equality (you wash your hands: we'll wash ours) experience = more than just looking, transformative, authentic.

All the explanation words themselves (mystical, cool, businesslike, equality, transformative and, above all, authentic) require explanation by means of yet more associative words whcih then require... etc.

Maybe that is the secret.