05 August 2013

Lucy does it again!

FT columnist  Lucy Kellaway has written another one of her marvelous takes on language, this time under the heading Abuse of language that keeps going forward.

Some quotable quotes:
  • UK civil servants have been banned from using 30 ugly words. There will be no more “delivering” – unless pizzas are involved; no more “empowerment” or “facilitation”, and nothing will ever be “key” again, apart from things that fit in locks. “Going forward” – another banned phrase – there will be no more “fostering” without children and no more “driving” without steering wheels.
  • a blog with the title “Your Company is Only as Good as Your Writing”. (see posts below)
  • ...  a reminder of how business people are addicted to abusing meaning, syntax and metaphor, but to show that Mr Wiens is wrong: there is no link between business success and talking like a regular human being. 
  • The sad truth is that words matter to only a few of us, and we get unreasonably agitated when people use them badly. 
  • If there is no business link between language and sales, there is no point in exhortation ...
Highly recommended.
I agree with Lucy when she says that "there is no business link between language and sales", except in the rarest situations, possibly including the aims of people like Mr Wiens, iFixit, along with some journalists, technical communicators and   translators, among others.

1 comment:

  1. It's an old, and I fear never-ending battle. Round about the time I was a student,
    Sir Ernest Gowers (1880-1966), a top British civil servant, brought out the first edition of his "The Complete Plain Words", itself a reconstruction of two previous books by him. That was in 1954 and it was published by none other than HMSO. It was an attempt to cut down on bureaucratic gobbledegook. Well, at least the Brits tried. So did the Canadian government and so has the European Union (with its internet page "Fight the Fog").
    Whose fault is The Fog? I would blame (1) the human tendency to write by imitating others (2) the desire to sound important, and (3) the failure to teach good writing in secondary schools and universities.


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