Lost in the Forest of Empty Words

Caught part of an interview with the wonderful Don Watson on The 7.30 Report last night.

The admirable Mr Watson has been conducting a campaign for some time now against what he calls "weasel words" -- the kind of meaningless corporate-speak that clogs our airwaves, our newspapers, our workplaces and even our classrooms and football fields. He pointed out that kids in Grade 2 now have to write their first mission statements; eight year olds are being asked to evaluate their key performance indicators. I winced; this is all too true.

However, I must disagree with the fabulous Mr W on one point. He claims that all this jargon (value-adding, birthday-ing, lines of sight, synergies*) is burgeoning and multiplying in the name of efficiency. No. It's arse-covering. No-one wants to be held responsible for anything. If no-one can understand what you say you're trying to do, it's that much harder for someone to realise that you haven't done it. So we all float around in this cloud of vagueness, in the foggy foggy forest of weasel wordage, where no one says what they mean and no-one ever has to take the blame for anything.

*Michael, who works for...er, the government... can supply me with plenty of examples.

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