Call it business jargon, call it corporate speak, we all know some: “move the needle”, “synergy”, “value add”, “reaching out”.
In this wonderfully written article, Molly Young calls it “garbage language”. (https://www.vulture.com/2020/02/spread-of-corporate-speak.html?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits)
This might sound like a flippant moniker, but she is quite serious in her insightful unmasking of how malicious business jargon can be.
It’s a brilliant read. Here are a few choice extracts:
“No matter where I’ve worked, it has always been obvious that if everyone agreed to use language in the way that it is normally used, which is to communicate, the workday would be two hours shorter.”
“Garbage language permeates the ways we think of our jobs and shapes our identities as workers. It is obvious that the point is concealment; it is less obvious what so many of us are trying to hide.”
“Do CEOs act like jerks because they are jerks, or because the language of management will create a jerk of anyone eventually? If garbage language is a form of self-marketing, then a CEO must find it especially tempting to conceal the unpleasant parts of his or her job . . . in a pile of verbal fluff.”
“The meaningful threat of garbage language — the reason it is not just annoying but malevolent — is that it confirms delusion as an asset in the workplace.”