September 19, 2013

"A century of complaints about business jargon."

At the beginning of the 20th century, people complained about “stop in,” “deliver the goods,” “win out,” “the straight dope,” “make good,” “get away with it,” “put one over,” “show down,” “come across,” “get wise,” “on the level,” “bawl him out,” “got his number,” “get his goat,” “get warm around the collar,” “hit the ceiling,” “fall for it,” and “get busy.”

All that seems so disconnected from business these days as we carp about "impactful," "going forward," "low-hanging fruit," and "at the end of the day."

Why blame business people? Maybe because we just don't like them too much anyway.

19 comments:

TML said...

Please do what you can from this platform of influence to kill "Lean In" Thank you.

Ann Althouse said...

I think the relevant observation on this post would be that "lean in" is NOT business jargon, but only seems so because what'shername is disliked.

m stone said...

I've found that business people actually enjoy sounding like business people, speaking a language that sets them apart from other groups and endearing them to colleagues. And, not surprisingly, other groups and professions establish their own argot.

Business people get a bad rap. It's everywhere.

The problem lies with other wannabes who "utilize"---another annoying phrase with business origins---the lingo to sound important.

Add Ryan Braun speaking on Wednesday to his teammates on the club: "Moving forward," Braun said then, "I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem."

I'll take F. Scott any day.

Caroline Walker said...

If I may add...
Incentivize
Mistakes were made

Wade Calvert said...

The end game
who's plate is this on?
let's take it offline

Carol said...

How about public schools: "Education for the Twenty-First Century!" WTF is that supposed to be about? More computer upgrades, right?

SarcastiCarrie said...

I have a buzzword BINGO card on my desk and if you all keep posting, I will be forced to jump up and yell BINGO.

My card has: synergies, proactive (not reactive), impactful, these (trying/difficult) economic times, improvement, urgency (sense of), Random Three-Letter Acronym, market share, strategic, sustainability, change management, brand (or brand value) and a Random 4-Letter Acronym pronounced like a word.

lemondog said...

Drive a stake into:

Outside-the-box thinking

Empowerment

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Problem is though, many of those words are excellent, when used in the proper time and place.

It's very easy to snark. Any halfwit can do it.

Strelnikov said...

Q: How can you tell an innovative cat?

A: He shits outside the box.

Craig said...

That's why business schools have nothing but multiple choice tests. They're basically voting for buzzwords.

darrenoia said...

As a writer in the corporate world, I have to deal with this stuff every day, and after treading water for a while, it does get tempting to succumb. The truth is that many of these terms come into existence because there isn't *quite* a proper English synonym to convey the same meaning. I would love to find a compact word or phrase that replaces "actionable" (used in the non-legal sense all the time), and I will go to great lengths to avoid using it improperly... but it's all part of the evolution of language. Today's jarringly fresh phrase becomes tomorrow's cliché, which, if it survives, becomes an entrenched part of the language that nobody even flinches at.

William Chadwick said...

When I was working for a big corporation in the 1990s and 2000s, I found such buzzwords useful to pick out, at meetings, what Ayn Rand used to call "social metaphysicians." (Rather than link to an online definition, I'll just refer you to the character of Peter Keating in THE FOUNTAINHEAD, as an embodiment of the concept.) You know, the go-along-to-get-along type: what David Riesman called "other directed." In the meeting these types would always be the first to use whatever corporate jargon or buzzword was staring to become au courant. I guess it was a way of signifying to the group and to management, "I'm In with the In Crowd"--or something.

Sam L. said...

We all use jargon. Sometimes too much. Es bummer.

DanTheMan said...

>>Why blame business people? Maybe because we just don't like them too much anyway.

Who is the "we" in this sentence, Ms. Althouse?

rehajm said...

This business person is great! Jargon and all...

Who's baby is that? What's your angle? I'll buy that!

Smilin' Jack said...

All that seems so disconnected from business these days as we carp about "impactful," "going forward," "low-hanging fruit," and "at the end of the day."

I don't know if it's disconnected, but it certainly seems counterproductive.

Ben said...

Every time someone offers to "reach out" to me i volunteer that its fne if they simply contact, call or email.

Ben said...

Every time someone offers to "reach out" to me i volunteer that its fne if they simply contact, call or email.