Thursday, January 29, 2009

Buzz Word Bull$%&^

Lately, I've been working on a list of useless buzz words and non-words that should be banned. The list so far:

1. Signage (as opposed to just "sign")
2. Usage (See above.)
3. Bandwidth (when used to describe how busy you are, as in, "I don't have enough bandwidth to handle that request right now."
4. Synergy
5. Dialogue as a verb
6. Utilize (I prefer "use.")
7. Impactful (not a word)
8. Stakeholder
9. Tasked (as in, "I am tasked with folding the laundry tonight.")

I'm sure there are many others. When someone uses two or more of these words in a sentence, I immediately assume that s/he is bullshitting me, or that s/he has been immersed in bureaucratic culture so long that s/he has forgotten how humans talk — or "dialogue." I judge them harshly. Apparently, it is no longer acceptable to say "I don't know," or to refrain from offering opinions on issues you haven't studied.

I was ranting to my friend H. about this when she handed me Diane Law's "A Dictionary of Bullshit." I can't stop reading it. It's meant to be funny (and it is), but it speaks to how prevalent these stupid words (and non-words) have become, and how the people who abuse them think doing so makes them sound smart.

Hint: It doesn't.

3 comments:

Zil said...

A big part of my job is to write this giant document, and in it I use the word stakeholder about a million times. Believe me, it's not my choice, but it's a lot easier than repeatedly saying "the group of all the people who are interested in the outcome of the project..."

Also, I like the word sinage. Not for any reason, it just appeals to me...

T.H. Elliott said...

I think the Dilbert boss uses all of those.

EDP said...

I've been forced to use "stakeholder," and it hurts every single time. I'm sure I've said plenty of things that make me sound like a pretentious tool, but "utilize?" Never!