Dear Auntie Em,
I consider myself a well spoken individual, who uses the English language skillfully, incorporating new terminology when appropriate alongside more traditional terms. So I was somewhat peeved to read of Legal Cheek’s campaign against ‘going forward’.
I’m not afraid to say that I regard the term as one of the most useful to come out of the United States in recent years, and I’m similarly unashamed to say that I employ it regularly.
Yet in the wake of Legal Cheek’s “campaign”, some of my colleagues have started taking the mickey out of my turn of phrase.
It’s affecting me, Auntie Em.
City law firm senior associate
Disclaimer: Auntie Em has never worked in a law firm. But she is an aunt and has a psychology degree. As a teenager, Auntie Em had a dream predicting 9/11.
Dear City senior associate,
There’s nothing wrong with adopting new language. Shakespeare used to make up words all the time. Here are some lovely words which you may use with your workmates, because they are great and they have a clear meaning:
Gallimaufry – medley, hodgepodge or jumble
e.g. “You need to organise your desk dude, it’s a gallimaufry of commercial contracts, bus tickets and magazines.”
Moist – urban slang for ‘wimpish’ (Bare moist = ‘very wimpish’)
e.g. “You’re worried the boss will shout in that meeting? You are bare moist.”
Boak – Scottish slang for nauseous
e.g. “I hate that they call redundancies ‘synergies’ – it’s enough to make you boak.”
But language should also be respected. And a phrase like ‘going forward’ abuses language by using it to obfuscate, rather than enlighten. Corporations and slimy individuals like to use language like this because it hides the truth, and by confusing the listener they think it makes them sound more important than they actually are.
Take this example: which would you rather read?
Subject: Value proposition
Please accept my apologies for reneging on our formalised verbal contract to solutionise the aforementioned Zplus beta software bug. Do you have some capacity to interface next week on this? As a secondary objective it would create synergies and enhance our strategic relationship going forward. Can we make this happen?
Subject: meet soon?
Sorry I forgot to chat to you about fixing the Zplus beta bug.
Are you free next week for a chat? It would be great to catch up.
Let me know,
A confident person isn’t afraid to put things plainly. Why use a big new word when a well-known small one will do the job?
I have to side with Legal Cheek’s drop the jargon campaign. There are too many morons bastardising language, spurting redundant and confusing bollocks (or should that be ‘bollockising’ the language?) in a thinly-veiled attempt to sound important. Do not join their ranks.
Talk proper, and people will understand you.
P.S. Read more Orwell.
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