Friday, March 25, 2005

Stop the madness!

I can't take it anymore! The English language is suffering such abuse in the business world that we can barely understand each other anymore. Words that used to mean something completely different have now been shanghaied by otherwise intelligent businesspeople, forced to do tasks for which they were never intended, and then so overworked that they have become utterly useless.

Here are some more victims of jargon enslavement:

This should not be used as a verb. I know that we do, and that it started with financial terminology, but come on: it has become a synonym for "use." ere's an actual excerpt from a recent email I received:

Given the other large implementation, overall resource issues, and combined with other items, the "usual" process has not been leveraged.

You know what? You don't sound any smarter when you use three syllables in place of one. In fact, you just make it harder for anyone else to "parse" what you're saying. Which brings me to...

Technical Terms in Non-Technical Conversations
First, congratulations to all nerds. I'm very happy that -- outside of Harvard, of course -- computer engineers and other super-smart science folks have risen to such prominence in society. It's chic to be a geek. However, this has led to a disturbing trend in my conversations, and I would like the rest of society to knock it off. Namely, the usage of highly technical programming terms by people who can't even figure out Excel.

To these people, I say: just because you heard the poorly dressed guy with bad hair in the cubicle next to you use a word doesn't mean that you know what it means, and it certainly doesn't mean you should try to apply it in everyday business conversation, OK?

Some shocking examples:

"I'm not sure I can parse what you want from me."

"Let's take this conversation offline. Let's take that offline too. I don't want to talk about that now: offline it for later."

"I couldn't get her to compile the memo for me, so I told her to fork it and I'd get back to her later."

OK, I made that last one up. Still, it hurts to hear these otherwise useful words being mangled so. Please, people, stop abusing the language! Use simple words whose meanings you understand, and if you find yourself wanting to "leverage the synergies in your vocabulary," don't. The more you do it, the closer you come to sounding like a blithering idiot.

Trust me: I've worked with enough of them to know.

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