What we have here is a failure to communicate.
I recently viewed a few defense contractors’ websites and discovered that much of their text is incomprehensible. Why? It’s loaded with jargon (domain, methodologies, “our skills map into the Government space”), acronyms, abbreviations, and redundancies (“more efficient and cost-effective operations”) and so on and so fifth.
Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net was Homer Simpson’s dot com company from The Simpsons episode Das Bus. He obviously had no idea what he was doing, so tried to dazzle onlookers with his jargon. When browsing some supposedly high-tech vendors’ websites, I’d swear that Homer Simpson wrote their copy.
There are a few trendy words and phrases that I avoid: empowerment, paradigm, “maps into”, incent, utilize, “architect” as a verb, “spend” as a noun, and “is comprised of”. When I run across them in published text, they suggest that the author is either
- a poor writer
- unsure of his meaning
- trying to hide something
- ignorant of the subject, OR
- all of the above.
Confused website text confirms my suspicion that many enterprises are at their heart, confused.
A good friend of mine who works in the defense electronics industry tells me that this peculiar dialect is standard practice. He attaches a glossary to every report that he writes.
What are your least-loved Newspeak terms?
- In recent years . . . “methodology” has been increasingly used as a pretentious substitute for “method” in scientific and technical contexts . . . the American Heritage Dictionary (1992 edition), quoted by Peter Klein in Method versus Methodology. Hung Nguyen replied, There are two types of people who use the word ‘methodology’ instead of ‘method’: those who are ignorant and those who would like to use it just for its sound – a kind of big word.
- From Inflationary Language, written and performed by the incomparable Victor Borge