Monday, June 11, 2012

Please Stop Using Words That Make No Sense. I Am Begging You.

Is it just me or do we have a large number of people who struggle to verbally express themselves? Like, you know?

Language matters. Words matter. The way we express ourselves matter. The national debate over "family" and "marriage" has been deeply impacted by re-defining of words as have a host of other issues.

The poor use of verbal language is rampant in our culture and is highlighted by the overuse of buzzwords. Almost every area of life has them. Even we Catholics have our own set of buzzwords. But, the two areas of modern life which have the most annoying buzzwords, in my opinion, are young people and the business world. Young people use "like", "you know", "lol", etc. But, the worst culprits are the folks in business. For instance, do you understand the following?
"You should meet this guy with the SIO. He's sort of this kind of social entrepreneur thinking outside of the box in the sustainability space and working on these ideas around sort of web-based social media, and he's in a round two capital raise in the VP space with the people at SVNP."
If not, then you are a normal human being who has trouble with business buzz-words. They drive me nuts and according to this article, I am not alone. A snip:
I'd say that in about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me. The language of internet business models has made the problem even worse. When I was younger, if I didn't understand what people were saying, I thought I was stupid. Now I realize that if it's to people's benefit that I understand them but I don't, then they're the ones who are stupid.

There are at least five strains of this epidemic.

We have forgotten how to use the real names of real things. Like doorknobs. Instead, people talk about the idea of doorknobs, without actually using the word "doorknob." So a new idea for a doorknob becomes "an innovation in residential access." Expose yourself repeatedly to the extrapolation of this practice to things more complicated than a doorknob and you really just need to carry Excedrin around with you all day.
Continue Reading.
If you think his article is a bit of a stretch, then you must either be an undergrad or have a job that doesn't expose you to such verbal mish-mash. Below is an example, though I doubt you will make it through the entire video (and that is perfectly normal):

I am certain there are many of you that can relate to this silliness. If so, then I have the perfect video for you:

Because I have been thinking about the abuse of the English language, due to the article above, I feel compelled to post one of my favorite videos on the importance of expressing yourself:


Brian Gill said...


'Words that don't make sense' can be a real problem. It's not limited to business: I've trudged through 'learned' publications with a mix ratio of about one pound of ideas to one ton of 'academese.' It felt like that, anyway.

I don't have a problem with jargon, if it's used 'in-house,' to speed up communication by using mutually-understood verbal shortcuts.

When jargon, buzzwords, or learned gibberish, get in the way of communication: that, I have a problem with.

I've posted about the intangible remunerations of eschewing obfuscation:

" 'EF,' 'OF,' Jargon, and Making Sense " (April 21, 2011)

Nathan said...

I'd have to disagree. As a sports fan I couldn't imagine talking about the NBA playoff game without taking about "triple-doubles," "post plays," etc., etc. Jargon allows people with inside knowledge to speak quickly and clearly to one another, even if what they are saying is difficult or impossible for the uninitiated to follow. The same is true in our sacred liturgy. We no longer use an inexact translation for the sake of effortless and immediate understanding, preferring buzz words like "consubstantial" and "incarnate" that need explained, but that reflect the reality they express much better. Jargon, while at times aggravating, is invaluable to communication. We may not be able to understand what the gentleman in the video is talking about, but those he is communicating to can, and that is the point of language - to express what your meaning to a particular audience, not necessarily to everyone on the internet. Just my 2 cents.

Marcel said...

Having your own inside-language and using buzzwords are two different things. Buzzwords bear little meaning (read the full article linked above).

Erin Garlock said...

So you mean to tell me concupiscence, transubstatiation, SSPX, OSB, and B16 are all part of the world's common vernacular?

Authentic Bioethics said...

I work in a field where I believe that entire conversations could be had using only acronyms. Among the worst offenders are government agencies. I agree with other commenters that these buzzwords/jargon have meaning among the people who use them, and that we Catholics have our own set of them.

What gets me is people having idiosyncratic, nuanced definitions of common words and using them in conversations with those definitions at work, but which other people do not know. Words like person (not a fetus) and marriage (any two people can do it) come to mind.

JD said...

Jargon is appropriate with certain inside groups for whom the understanding gives the sense of being 'in', which can create a sense of commonality or belonging, not to mention making communication faster and easier. It's when jargon betrays a coercive tactic that I tend to become suspicious. For me, this is above all in the language of consumerism. Mcdonald's staff is populated with so called 'team members', subway sandwich employees are 'sandwich artists', and every second food item taken out of the freezer is 'gourmet'. This use of language to give the facade of community or commradery, skillmanship, or luxury- all where it doesn't truly exist- are a ploy to turn us into cogs in the economic, cultural machine, in my opinion.