“Methodology” strikes again

I watched a recorded telecom-related webinar that was hosted by a federal agency. Early in her presentation, the national program coordinator displayed a list of tasks, with one task per line. The list was prominently labeled Methodology. Then Ms. Program Coordinator referred to her list of tasks as the program methodology.

Ackk! A five syllable word, incorrectly used, when two syllables would have been accurate! I’ve ranted about this stupid use of pretentious language before. I like Wiktionary’s definition of methodology:

The study  of methods used in a field.

(proscribed) A collection of methods, practices, procedures and rules used by those who work in some field. The implementation of such methods etc.

Usage notes: Etymologically, methodology refers to the study of methods. Thus the use of methodology as a synonym for methods (or other simple terms such as means, technique, or procedure) is proscribed as both inaccurate and pretentious.

I admit that after witnessing this pretentious and inaccurate use of language, my opinion of the presentation, its presenter, and the program dropped a notch or two.

I’m not alone. From Ugh! Those pretentious expressions:

As soon as I hear “methodology” or “holistic” or “at the present moment in time”, I treat the speaker with distrust.

The irony is that the presenter undoubtedly chose the word methodology because she thought that it would impress her audience. It had the opposite effect on me. The program manual also misused the word methodology, so I’m sure that her colleagues who helped prepare the manual thought that this butchering of language was acceptable. The telecom and defense industries are loaded with pretentious and inaccurate phrases. It’s not a coincidence that they’re also loaded with pretentious and unimaginative people.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

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