Corporatese

Cover of Jon Stewart's "Earth (the Book)"I was listening to the (brilliant) Samantha Bee narrate the (brilliant) Jon Stewart’s (brilliant) audiobook Earth: A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race the other day and found myself bursting into laughter at this (brilliant) segment on corporatespeak. Opening my copy of the actual (brilliant) print version, I saw that most of this is in such teeny text  you might have been unable to read it. As a public service to writers everywhere, I’ve made it legible:

For years, corporatese — the specialized dialect spoken by highly-paid executives to obscure their jobs’ relative simplicity — was incomprehensible to linguists and laymen alike. That changed with the 2003 discovery of the Rosetta Memo behind a filing cabinet in an Atlanta office park:

..that some team members are experiencing a non-satisfactory level of disconnect vis-à-vis our inter-personnel messaging. To ensure we are all on the same page with our ducks in a row, we’re opening the kimono to initiate a global refresh on F2F and ecommunications standards. Therefore, FYI/FFR: Interface, dialogue, touch base, face-to-face, connect and advise indicate interpersonal communication. Execute, implement, leverage, facilitate, synergize, deliver and exploit pertain to the performance of work. Robust, value-rich, seamless, best-of-breed and user-centric denote meritorious quality. Further: To enheighten our task-simplicity quotient (the revealing of which could result in significant new awareness of human-capital redundancy and attendant downsizing) all comms should, going forward , be both redundant and repetitive, with the occasional wordvention utilized in place of vocables of greater brevity, clarity, and brevarity. Augment with occasional impenetrable acronyms (OIA). These syntactical enhancements add perceived value to each employee’s personal brand. Exemplifications are underposted:

1) “I want to circle back and interface about how to right-size our headcount while still keeping workers incentivized.”

2) “Due to unforeseen life events, I’ll be off-line tomorrow so can we push our interlock until post-all-hands?”

3) “At the end of the day, net-net, if we have a joint brown-bag to come to agreeance on how to grow mind share among targeted thought leaders by implementing best practices across the board, we can marketeer our way toward synergizing a frictionless sales environment.”

TRANSLATION:

Hey dumbshits: 90% of the stuff we say basically means either “talk,” “make” or “good.” But nobody pays fat salaries for “talking about making good things.” So to keep our scam going, only use ungainly words, and always three times as many of them as a normal person. Examples:

1) “Let’s discuss how we can fire people without making the ones we keep cry.”

2) “My uncle died; can we meet later?”

3) “Lunch?”

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2 Comments

  1. OK this hits the nail on the head- I speak, write English – one other, I do poorly- but I have come to a place where English doesn’t quite compute anymore- Stewart’s translation makes sense- afterall isn’t English supposed to be one of the most simple and direct languages?????
    Guess not – someone needs to publish a handbook. He should think about it. Potentially a great seller – but there would be closet readers. No one wants to admit they don’t get stuff that’s put out there posing as basic English.
    Love him.

  2. This isn’t unique to business, that’s for sure. My friend Albert was complaining last night about how rampant jargon-filled, meaningless writing is in his field: psychology. And every profession has its blather. But I guess if all business people wrote like Seth Godin (i.e. clear, fun to read) what would good copywriters do for a living?

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