17 Mar 2008

Finding the cure for corporate Tourette’s

Manager: “David, the ball is in your court.”
David: (silence)
Manager: I know you’ve got a lot of irons in the fire but we need you to be the point man on this one:”
David: (silence)
Manager: “OK, we’ve got robust list of mission-critical action points we need you to run with.”
David: (silence, but thinks to himself, “what the h*ll is this person talking about?”).

Coprolalia is a medical term for the involuntary, spontaneous utterance of socially objectionable words. It’s basically uncontrollable cursing and besides being a common affliction along the highways of my native New Jersey, it’s also one of the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome. The above babble, however, should be seen as just as objectionable as any profane bout of coprolalia.

Corporate jargon – with its low-hanging fruit and scalable, seamless, soup-to-nuts synergies – has for years been cannibalizing the English language and making it unintelligible for millions of non-native speakers. The world of technology is no better, with standards committees shortening almost every phrase into a meaningless alphabet soup of acronyms such as RGB, VPN, XRM, HTM and PPP. You could have a brain aneurism just trying to figure them all out.

I am all for the development of modern languages but we need to find a cure for corporate Tourette’s before we build our own Tower of Babel. A good start would be trying to speak a clearer and more concise language, one that does not rely on marketing euphemisms or funny-sounding acronyms.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

David. You've got to look at this. George Carlin feels your pain, though he doesn't restrict it to corporatism.