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Not over the moon about rise of jargon.


In the week of the death of Neil Armstrong, whose 'one small step for man' line went down amongst history's most memorable bits of oratory, a rather depressing survey on office jargon arrives.

According to research by (which itself sounds like a rather hackneyed cliche) 19 per cent of us are office wafflers, using toe-curling expressions such as 'touch base', '110 per cent', 'it's a no-brainer' or 'thinking outside the box.' The survey suggests that the poor souls who spout this rubbish are trying to impress colleagues or improve their chances of promotion. Scarcely believable, but quite possibly true.

Other ghastly corporate phrases which have become part of the office furniture, so to speak, include 'at the end of the day,' 'it's a win-win situation', 'on my radar' and 'going forward' (you never hear anybody in the business world say 'going backward.') Outside the workplace, Britons are apparently most likely to encounter this gross misuse of the most beautiful language on earth on television, often when viewing programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragons' Den. This at least provides a significant clue why Lord Sugar should ever have been ennobled, with his attempts to emasculate the English language paying off with a wellearned peerage for services to the terminally inarticulate.

More seriously, there is a profoundly depressing truth incorporated within's study, and that truth holds up a glaring mirror to 21st century methods of communication across large swathes of society. If you spend large parts of your life reducing the gloriously varied English language to mobile phone textspeak, as many people do, it's hardly surprising that your command of vocabulary is likely to shrink to dull cliche and tired jargon.

If you have just 140 characters to try to impress the world with your views of Mitt Romney's chances, Andrew Strauss's resignation or the current state of your wardrobe, you will struggle for profound reflections. If you spend large parts of your time spraying exclamation marks all over the information super-highway you run the risk of becoming a digital dullard incapable of original thought.

The digital world provides wonderful tools of communication which have transformed mankind. It has also reduced many people to gibbering oiks.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 30, 2012
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