Bad Language II – the results of my survey

Last week I asked for examples of bad language in the IA industry and I promised to write them up. Some people misread what I asked for and sent me random sweary comments, which was alarming if fun. I shall decline to take them to heart.

There was a serious point to my request, as raised by my former colleague Manuel Boissiere, on a reply to one of my previous posts. As well as by accounts continuing to uphold the French national pastime of terrifying driving, he made a valid point a week or so ago when he commented on one of my posts, observing that most IA presentations he had seen needed a glossary attached.

And so to the contenders. First up I have to thank Andi Wilmot for a number of contributions, my favourite being a ‘Gooley Grabber’. This is apparently a British version of USP, which seems odd since USP is an abbreviation of an English expression already. It did however make me giggle, and therefore has value on the strength of that alone. Andi, thank you!

Secondly, thank you Sarah Carter. Sarah is one of those people who I appear to have known for years and years, and she gave me a whole paragraph of rubbish. Utter, pure, 100% cobblers, absolute (ahem)… rubbish. Many of the phrases are the sort of stock stuff spouted by managers who have been caught out when asked to speak to the troops at short notice, and she turned it into a conversation:

“You are thinking outside the box aren’t you? I’m glad you reached out and touched base with me, so that we can externalise the problem, I’d like to think that we’ve strategised and got our ducks lined up in a row with the eggs. I wonder if you can walk the walk as well as talking the talk though and monetize the ecosystem? However, if I know you, you’ll take a 30,000 foot view, as you’re a robust team player with a dynamic market leader, so I’ll expect you to give me the ETA on delivering the value proposition of your customer oriented USP.”

If you use such words EVER, shame on you. Shame on YOU…..

I have to say I accidentally created a new word myself the other day. As is the fashion right now, I was talking about Cloud technologies. I asked whether an application was ‘cloudable’, and immediately felt the pang of guilt at the desecration of the English language. In my defence I immediately offered an apology to the fine folks at ISfL who were on the receiving end, and we had a good chat about how ‘Cloud presentation buzzword bingo’ was good fun during presentations (Cloudify, Saas-ification etc.) but, still, I couldn’t quite eradicate the shame, which is the correct emotion at such a time.

To conclude however, I asked for language that could be described as ‘hateful’, and the winner by a country mile comes from my old chum, Robin Phillips. His submission was ‘Supportfolio’. The merging of two words into one is something normally only the Germans are guilty of, but this one reeks of desperation. It’s an appalling mashup of two words to create a new one which you think you understand, but frankly could mean anything.

The point here is obvious. IA professionals have to communicate difficult concepts and terms (anyone who has had to explain a CESG Good Practice Guide to anyone else will understand completely), as the people element of our trade is probably the most important. Remember that not everyone loves what we do, and some people actually get the hump when we impose seemingly draconian measures on them. Don’t dress things up, don’t try and soften the blow, but please do at least talk in English.


About Graeme Stewart, McAfee

I work for McAfee as Director of Public Sector Strategy and Relations, UK&I
This entry was posted in Cloud Computing, Efficiency, Security, Sophos. Bookmark the permalink.

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