Sunday, June 22, 2008

Proactively efforting to impact the thought showers.

By Capt. Fogg

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!

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Blogger rockync said...

Clap!Clap!Clap!.... for Mr Milton! May all the long winded, pompous, verbiage vomiters around the globe have their tongues fall off!
I once had a nursing instructor who read the notes of one of our fellow students and then told her,"You know all the medical terms of our profession, but what you must ask your self is,'does the next person who reads this know what I'm saying?' So, know these terms; you'll need them when you sit for your boards, but when you are working in the real world, please use plain English!"
That has stuck with me all these years. I know a lot of obtuse and sophisticated English words. I made it a point to learn new words and their meanings. When I get in a conversation with some condescending blow hard, I whip out a few of my own gems. Gets 'em every time. :)

11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

People who really have vocabularies seldom have to resort to popular neologisms.

3:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here, here. I find the same mindset among the English as Second Language set. They believe that by using the biggest and often most obscure words possible, they show their exptertise in English. Of course no one can understand what the hell they're trying to say.

6:01:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Fogg, you have such a way with words. A round of applause for Mr. Milton and yourself.

6:24:00 PM  

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