Monday, September 25, 2006

Infect the Language for Fun and Entertainment!

Most of us who communicate for a living have found ourselves cursing the way language gets abused in the corporate world.

We've all seen how horrible words and phrases spread. One day someone told me he'd been "tasked with" something, and I thought, "What a strange, contorted way to say you've been asked to do something." A week later it was everywhere.

And so they come and go and come and go. Remember when "tiger teams" were all the rage? How about "templatize?" "End-to-end?" "Turnkey?" "Clicks and mortar?"

Buzzwords usually have one of two important features:

1. The buzzword (or buzzphrase) means something, but it's something that's already expressed more clearly and simply by ordinary English. ("Anne tasked me with re-envisioning the corporate presentation!" vs. "Anne asked me to look at the corporate presentation and recommend some new approaches to it.")

2. The buzzword actually describes some new concept, but quickly gets applied to everything in sight. (See "Web 2.0.")

Generally, they are born, they annoy millions, and they either fade away or we all get used to hearing them. What can we do?

Well, here's a very funny story about how you can fight back, or at least entertain yourself while the language degrades: create your own stupid buzzword and release it into the wild to see how far it can go!

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