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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bullshit watch (latest in a probably endless series)

I'm not against jargon. I actually quite like learning new examples. And I don't get particularly bothered about clich├ęs like "driving the business forward" because at least I know what they're trying to say, as does the person using them. The idea has taken root in British culture that we are a nation of stout, unpretentious souls who are held back by a managerial class who talk in unintelligible gibberish. I don't buy it.
But where I do fall out with the writer of press releases - and press releases are the key instrument of touchy-feely government and please-love-me business - is when I feel that the awkwardness of the language is there to hide the fact that the writer doesn't know what they are supposed to be saying. Either that or they know only too well but are afraid to say it. One anonymous poster described the Sony example as "a desire to communicate ideas which are either totally fanciful or beyond the writers' vocabulary." I think the former is certainly true.
Somebody asked "does anybody actually believe this stuff?" and the answer, interestingly, is no. But that doesn't matter to the organisation, which is just keen to be seen to be doing something.
All this in the same week that the government's Minister For Children announced that they wished to make children happier by "securing a holistic approach to tackling children's issues." Apart from the fact that "holistic" is just "co-ordinated" for people who shop at Ikea and there is no such thing as "a children's issue", I just want to say this. As the owner of three children, most of whom aren't children any more, I can assure the government that it is quite beyond the power of parents to make their own children happy, let alone somebody in Whitehall. Christmas is the annual festival provided for us to learn this lesson time and time again.