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December 10, 2008

Renaming Irritating Office Jargon

Last month both Oxford University and the Daily Telegraph released the results of their searches for the ten most irritating words or phrases in the English language.

OxfordOxfordUniversityLogo.gif

1. At the end of the day
2. Fairly unique
3. I personally
4. At this moment in time
5. With all due respect
6. Absolutely
7. It's a nightmare
8. Shouldn't of
9. 24/7
10. It's not rocket science

Daily TelegraphThe_Daily_Telegraph.png

1. Literally
2. A safe pair of hands
3. I'm gutted
4. Basically
5. Going forward
6. Upcoming
7. Shouldn't of
8. Up until
9. Neither here nor there
10. On a daily basis

Inspired by these lists and a few too many real-life examples of jargon overload, blogger Shel Holtz asked his Twitter followers to send in their most-hated words and phrases. His list includes such verbal atrocities as "leveraging low-cost locations" to mean "outsourcing," not to mention "mission critical," "value-added," "granular," "synergy," and "net/net."

Jargon frequently starts out as something useful - a new word needed to describe something specific to an industry, or at least a faster way to say something. Some of it is simply created to sound impressive - or to replace an older cliché.

And some of it is literally the result of misunderstanding, such as the contradictory "fairly unique" or the frankly ungrammatical "shouldn't of."

Much of it is unnecessary. Why talk about "learnings" when we already have the word "lessons"? What advantage does "impact" really have over "affect"? And who had the unmitigated gall to turn "obsolete" and "architect" into verbs?

There was a time when "synergy" was a beautiful word for a rather nice concept, but now it's trite and overused.

What shall we invent, or revive, to replace it? There's the rather obscure but parallel "heterodyne," which refers to combining radio frequencies and has equally impeccable Greek roots.

Perhaps it's time we revisited our dictionaries to find new words to re-brand as business buzzwords. Then we should be safe from cliché-dom for at least a few years.

Posted by William Lozito at December 10, 2008 9:28 AM
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