Writing Topics: Jargon

Why wouldn’t you want to be clear?

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The obvious answer is – if you want to mislead. A fascinating study published in the US Journal of Language and Social Psychology suggests that when scientists’ research turns out to be fraudulent, the language is often a giveaway. Two researchers at Stanford University, California, studied more than 250 scientific papers that had been found […]

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When your audience doesn’t understand

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We often hear people say: “That’s not jargon; everyone knows what it means.” But do they really? One of our clients was giving a presentation recently when he noticed that several of his audience appeared to be distracted by their mobiles. Eventually he caught the eye of one as he looked up from his phone. […]

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Cascading jargon

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In a recent Guardian article, Steven Poole had an enjoyable dig at office jargon. Among other things, he suggested that asking for something by “end of play” might be “trying to hypnotise you into thinking you are having fun”. I am similarly suspicious of the corporate fondness for prettifying everyday tasks and functions, the word […]

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More financial crisis jargon

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It’s been a few months since my post on PIIGS and BRICs, so I thought I’d update you on the latest financial crisis jargon. “Grexit” (Greek exit from the Eurozone) from last time has been joined by “Brixit” (British exit from the EU. It also appears less frequently as “Brexit”), “Spexit” (Spanish exit) and the […]

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Animal metaphors

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I am indebted to my friend the author Adam Jacot for some animal metaphors that have surfaced in management circles. You may be familiar with “boiled frog syndrome”, “lipstick on a pig” and “elephant in the room”, for which “moose on the table” seems to be an alternative, presumably among Canadians. But unless you are […]

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PIIGS might not fly, but BRICs can

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If you’ve been anywhere near a paper or television at any time in the last eight or nine months, you will have heard something about problems in the Eurozone. While the last major financial crisis left us with a lot of complicated jargon to digest (can anyone remember the difference between a CDS and a […]

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The thin red line issue

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Here’s another piece of jargon. How many of you have heard something described as a “red line issue” as in “We regard the removal of Trident as a red line issue.”? Like “pushing the envelope”, it’s connected to flying. Aircraft have a maximum safe speed they can travel at, indicated by a red line. You’ll […]

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The value of clichés

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I went to see an extraordinary new play recently – London Road at the National Theatre. It is a verbatim record of interviews with neighbours in London Road, Ipswich, in the aftermath of the murders of prostitutes by serial killer Steve Wright – performed by actors and set to music. The words themselves are unremarkable […]

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Ridiculous neologism of the month No. 1

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I’m an open-minded kind of guy, I accept that language changes, that people coin neologisms (new words) all the time. I even accept that some of them aren’t the worst words I’ve ever heard. When I saw “organogram”, however, I nearly fell out of my chair. I first came across it a few weeks ago […]

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Are your assets a resource or are your resources an asset?

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Diamonds are in the news at the moment, so we thought we’d draw attention to the Company profile of Gem Diamonds. From their website: “Gem Diamonds is a global diamond company that has been pursuing a long term growth strategy through targeted acquisitions and the development of existing assets. Under current market conditions, the Group […]

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