How to kill the English language

July 14, 2008

Jargon, yep, jargon. It has been addressed on this site before and the BBC did a good piece on it last month:

However, I just can’t resist having another bite at the cherry (boom, boom).


In our industry we are constantly up against deadlines, time is perhaps one of our most precious commodities and in theory anything we can do to save on time is a good thing, right?


Well yes and no. Being able to use macros in word is a good thing. Knowing which journalists write what and for who is a good thing. Having nimble hands to do binding is a good thing. Butchering the English language to get a point across quicker is a bad thing.


If time is one of our most vital commodities, then surely language is our most precious. Through constant use of management speak and jargon, I have seen people put together entire sentences with nothing but a series of catchphrases, acronyms and buzz words. It takes some doing, but here is an example which I have taken from a conversation I had with a ‘friend’ in a bar a few weeks back:


“So, I touched base with her and flicked across the WIP before COP – we were going uphill against the wind with this one. She came back to me and asked me to action a PR calendar which we could take forward in order to facilitate meeting our KPIs.”


After hearing that I took a swig of my beer to make sure it was actually beer and not some mind-bending petrol!


I realise that people fall into the habit of talking in jargon and I am one of the guiltiest parties in my office – so I have put together a list of 10 words, phrases and clichés’ which I am trying to eliminate from my day-to-day life. Each time I use one of them, 10p goes into the Beer Money jar.


1.      And such – I don’t really know what this means, it just happens to end sentences where I’ve been listing something and run out of things to say

2.      Let’s touch base – The classic. No idea what it really means – shall we meet? Let’s talk about this? Do you want to play baseball? No idea

3.      Blue sky thinking – It would be beautiful if it wasn’t so cringe worthy

4.      Action it – grammatically I’m not even sure if this is correct. Can you action this for me? No, but I can do it for you if you like

5.       COP – PR is just not cricket, so there is no need for this phrase to be used

6.      I have capacity – When did I start talking like a robot? Yes, I have the time to do it for you

7.      Ya – The dreaded yuppie ‘ya’ has crept into my vocabulary with disturbing ease. I realise as soon as I’ve said it that I am a shell of a human being

8.      Flag-up – Probably the one I use most…….annoyingly

9.      Media matrix – I don’t actually use this, but it does always amuse. How exactly is a media matrix different from a media list

10.  Can we sit-down? – Is it really so difficult to say: “can we have a meeting?”


I have been on my jargon watch for two weeks now and I am about £23 poorer, but a much richer human being.

One Response to “How to kill the English language”

  1. charitygirl Says:

    Perhaps a media matrix is a media list dressed in floor length leather coat…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: