Preserving the English Language

 

 

The English language is under assault through an attempt to mutilate its usage.  It is a beautiful and powerful language.  And, through proper application, it conveys precise meanings and provides accurate communications.

 

A recent statistic shows that one-quarter of the world’s populace uses the English language. That sounds gratifying on the surface.  But, I submit that only 1 in 20 (perhaps 1 in 50) use it properly.

 

When many people misuse or abuse the English language, it begs the questions: What are the effects of erroneous or mutilated English?  Is it harmful?  The answer to the last question: Definitely!  The improper use of English results in miscommunication, misunderstanding, and ultimately: mistakes and poor productivity.

 

Listed below are a few of the current misused and abused terms in business.  There are two columns: first, an example of an English slur to avoid, and second, an alternative expression that is far more meaningful. In a few instances, the slur is so meaningless, so ludicrous, that it is difficult to understand its meaning.  So, it is best to completely avoid it.

 

Although these abuses apply in business, they are also in everyday parlance.  The typical misuse is to make verbs out of nouns.  Keep sentences and words specific: simple; minimal use of gerunds; avoid “to be” verbs, if possible, and use words with no more than three syllables. And, in all instances: avoid nonsense words or words that try to compress a logical combination of words into a meaningless phrase.

 

 

 

 

English Slurs – Avoid

 

Alternative Proper or Meaningful Terms

 

 

 

Architecting

 

 

One is an architect or studies architecture.  Or, one designs or develops something. Or, we build something.

 

But NO ONE “architects” or is “architecting”.  Do not, I repeat do not, make verbs out of nouns.

 

 

 

 

 

Benchstrength

 

 

Are we bench- pressing: 100 lb.? 200 lb.? I realize that I am being a bit persnickety, but it is this laziness of trying to use one vague term for a few specific words.

 

Let’s say: “Do we have enough resources”? Or, “we have sufficient resources.”

 

 

 

Diarizing (Diarising in the UK)

 

 

This term is almost laughable.  We may write in our diary; we may schedule an appointment in our diary. 

 

But, we definitely DO NOT “diarize”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decisioning

 

 

It is a close call as to whether using “decisioning”, “imagineering” or “solutioning” is worst.  These three are the triad of fluff, nonsense and confusion. They are all awful mutilations of nouns and must never be used.

 

To be “decisioning” is waffling at is zenith.  It demonstrates an inability to make a decision or set a deadline.

 

One makes decisions or is in the process of a decision. 

 

 

 

 

Direction of travel

 

 

What does this mean: By auto? Train? Airplane? East? West?

 

If it means we are to take steps in a particular direction, then let’s say so.  Be specific about which direction and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Forward

 

 

Completely vague: does it mean we are going to continue?  Is it a command, such as in the army: “Forward march!”?

 

If it is meant to be something that occurs or continues into the future, why not say so?

 

For example, use the term: “In the future, we will do thus and so”. Or, “starting next week, we will initiate a new process.”

 

 

Hypervising

 

 

Hyped version of supervising; just avoid.

 

 

 

I’ll circle back to you

 

 

Circle the wagons?  Are we expecting an Indian attack? 

 

Why not just say: “I will get back to you or respond to you by such and such a day or time.”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagineering

 

 

Goodness knows what this is.  Are we imagining? Are we trying to imagine?  Do we want to imagine? 

 

Just avoid this ridiculous term; its use only suggests that the writer or speaker has no concept of how to use English.

 

 

 

 

 

Impactful

 

 

What does this mean?  If something has an impact, fine; say so. Do not say it is “impactful”: ridiculous.

 

For example, one could say that such and such an event may have a negative “impact”.  But, I suggest using “effect” instead of “impact” in these cases.

 

 

 

 

Journaling

 

 

Another example of turning a noun into a gerund with no benefit. 

 

If “Journaling” is intended to convey the act of writing, why not simply state: “I will write it”, “I will type it.” Or “I am writing a note right now.”

 

 

 

 

Learnings

 

 

 

Again, what in the world does this mean?  Are we learning something?  Are we becoming educated?

 

Why not just say: “We are learning xyz”?  Or, “we expect to learn or have learned xyz.”

 

 

 

 

Let’s take that offline

 

 

Is this what Marconi telegraphed? 

 

Let’s just say: “We’ll discuss it later” or “Let’s schedule a meeting to discuss it”.

 

 

 

 

Offboarding

 

 

This term is totally meaningless; it is worse than “onboarding”. Does it refer to “waterboarding”?

 

One presumes it means firing or lay off or retiring.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Just avoid it.

 

 

 

 

 

Onboarding

 

 

This is meant to complete the hiring process or set up an employee.  We have become so lazy that we take a few appropriate words and abbreviate them into a meaningless term.

 

Is it so hard to just say: “Complete employee set up”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradigm shift

 

 

Thankfully, this term is in less use than it was about 10 years ago.

 

Just avoid it; it is ridiculous. 

 

Instead, one can say: “We have a new business focus”, or if you insist, “we have adjusted our business focus” or “changed our business model”.

 

 

Prepone

 

 

Presumably the opposite of postpone; avoid completely.

 

 

 

 

 

Reach(ing) out

 

 

If anyone “reaches out” to me, they best take care, as I am just as likely to throw up my arms to presumably block their upper cut.

 

It is a vague and meaningless term.

 

Instead use: “Call so-and-so”, email so-and-so”, contact so-and so”.

 

To be extremely precise, one should only use “contact” as a noun, not a verb.

 

 

 

 

 

Sense check

 

 

Does this mean we have completely taken leave of our senses?  Perhaps so.

 

Does it mean “status check”?  Does it mean that we need a “sanity check” or that we need to determine if something makes sense?

 

If it is the last, then say so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Socialize

Socializing

Socialization

 

 

 

These three terms have been used, misused, for several years.  The presumed usage is to request a person or group to gain a consensus, agreement or understanding on a document or idea amongst several people.  Their origin was apparently from the education profession.

 

Regardless, their application is a mutilation of what is actually intended by the words.  For people to socialize or even to attend a socializing event is a very natural activity, but one does NOT “socialize” an idea or document. 

 

Since their use is intended to discuss or gain agreement or consensus, why not say so?  Why this penchant to make up words that are obtuse or confuse?  Furthermore, “socialization” is not even a word.

 

 

 

 

 

Solutioning

 

 

This term is possibly the most irritating to me.  I really want to scream when someone uses it. 

 

One develops or prepares solutions.  One seeks out solutions. But, one is never, ever “solutioning”.  Stop making verbs or gerunds out of nouns. It is the epitome of laziness in speaking, writing and thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

Stakeholders

 

 

 

Are we on a witch hunt?  Are we going to burn them?

 

We have shareholders to be sure.  We have sponsors; we have members, participants, interested parties.  We can even have a stake in something. But, “stakeholder” is a meaningless, sloppy term.

 

Don’t use it.

 

 

 

 

 

Zerotasking

 

 

 

This one is new; I have no idea what it means. 

 

Does it mean there are no tasks for certain people? Or, is this some bizarre adaptation of “zero based budgeting” (remember that archaic philosophy?), meaning that we are going to work up from zero tasks?

 

Just avoid using it.

 

 

 

Objectives

 

I have a two-fold objective: first, preserve our English by rooting out the usage of these slurs.  That can be accomplished by reprimanding (at first gently and then, if necessary, firmly) the person using them, either verbally or in writing. 

 

Perhaps we can invoke some sort of penalty scheme, charging the perpetrator a fee every time a person uses it.  The amount of the fee could be tiered, depending upon the title or presumed experience of the individual; i.e., people with more experience or in a senior management role should know better and thus be subject to a higher penalty.

 

The second objective is to insist that English users read and listen to magazines, books and videos that are properly written and spoken, not those that simply appeal to prurient interests.

 

 

Bennett B Quillen

553 Concord Road

Davidson, NC 28036

704.907.5235

bquillen@qandans.net