Business-speak isn’t just a shallow use of words

The meaningless businessspeak John Simmons refers to (‘Verbal fuel’, DW 21 May) is a source of irritation because of the suspicion that it’s used to deliberately mystify the work of managers and mask inaction.

Even more uncomfortable is the thought that such language might have crept out of the office and into people’s homes: ‘Can I use your car once I’ve passed my driving test, mum?’ ‘Probably not a good idea going forward, love, but I’ll think about it and revert.’

It can be a power thing too – managers sometimes use jargon to pump up their own confidence while ‘cascading key messages’ to teams.

Writers of internal or corporate publications could be forgiven for feeling tempted at times to give in and think, ‘sod it, the readers are now so used to this sort of language, I might as well use it’. Instinctively, we avoid that temptation.

But should we really be so sniffy? Business-speak is a shallow use of words, yes. But isn’t it all part of the game of playing with and evolving language to suit our own purposes? And that is a creative endeavour in its own way, I guess.

Meanwhile, there are some wonderful examples of creativity out there, and some of the best certainly don’t involve plain speaking. The writers of fantastic series like The Wire and Deadwood know that the rewind button is our best friend as we struggle to keep up with the dialogue – and we love it all the more for that.

Rest assured, too, that the communications industry is chocka with creative brains, and though it’s not all worthy of William Shakespeare, the range of writing styles is pretty varied. It has to be for a very good reason – we write with our audience in mind.

Cherry Anthony, Editor/writer, The Team, by e-mail

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