The fact that the Campaign for Plain English has been going since 1979 and the amount of marketing (in particular) buzzwords have only accelerated is a bit of a worry given what I’m writing about… BUT:
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, since it’s a personal quest/rant/gripe – given that I’m not particularly clever, I have found that I’m much happier using normal words than fancy ones. I also find, as a planner, that my main audience (creatives) aren’t particularly impressed when I try to tart up my thoughts with some confusing language. And, when I actually have something worthwhile to say, I’ve found that I don’t need buzzwords to say it. Moreover, what’s the point in using language that people might misconstrue?
Then, last week I saw that Martin Sorrell’s on a quest for plain english too… So, I’m in august company! (“august” intended as irony!)
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that we should never use analogies or any words that are more precise or interesting. BUT, the trap of buzzwords and 10 cent specials that nobody actually understands is a huge one. And, something that we should all be avoiding carefully every day. As mentioned below, I love a good word, but that doesn’t mean we need to use them in everyday conversations.
Somehow, we seem to have all fallen under the spell – even when we’re saying it as a joke, we’re spreading the disease. And it is a disease – they’re memes really – bad viruses of thought. It’s new labour meets the management consultant, but they’re no longer the main offenders. And, generally, marketing does seem to be the worst offender. Whenever you see people do it in movies, they’re always the idiot. Why do we copy the muppets?
We used to play a version of bingo in status meetings that helped to eradicate this. And, at least we got to have some fun despite it. That was 1999, so nowadays you probably would need to be careful with what phrases you pick, otherwise the whole room will have got a full house before 5 minutes are up!
But, I wish that people would stop doing 3 things:
1. Making up words to make something sound important or new (“Publitise” being the latest I heard)
2. Talking in riddles and lazy, hollow phrases (“Pushing the peanut forward” and the like)
3. Using or abusing words that are unnecessarily complicated/obtuse (Why say “August” when “impressive” works?)
And, while I’m complaining, I also wish that people could pronounce “mnemonic” if they’re going to use it so much – and not say “Pneumonic!”