Monthly Archives: December 2013
Unfortunately, no way exists to banish these words and phrases—but the desire is there in many of us. They have become trite, overused, boring and vague:
1. Fiscal cliff
2. Kick the can down the road
3. Double down
4. Jobs creators/creation
6. YOLO (You only live once, usually said before undertaking something rash or stupid.)
7. Spoiler alert
8. Bucket list
11. Boneless wings
A business contact sent me these statistics today. I was amazed—and not in a good way. I think you will likely respond similarly:
Annual productivity costs per employee:
- Spam: $1250
- Unnecessary emails: $1800
- Poorly written communications: $2100 – $4100
Source: You waste a lot of time at work
Of course, I was most interested to see that poorly written communications account for the greatest cost in productivity for employees. Click on the link and get the whole picture of what is (or isn’t) going on in the typical workplace. I hope yours is not typical.
These two words are frequently misused and mistaken for one another.
As a noun, “regiment” is a unit of an army that is further divided into smaller units: “An experienced cavalry regiment was deployed at the battle of Gettysburg.” (I just made that sentence up, so the content could be wrong but the sense is correct.)
The noun “regimen” means a planned way of doing something, a routine: “My daily regimen includes trying, and always failing, to go back to sleep after I wake up at the first light of day.”
During all my years of corporate consulting in which I encouraged employees to rid their writing of jargon, I was confronted by so-called mission statements and vision statements, often posted on walls.
I always questioned their purpose. Do employees read them and take them to heart? I doubt it—although I seem to remember reading that some Japanese companies have their employees recite the mission statements every morning in an attempt to encourage productivity. Is that all it would take? If so, why isn’t every company having workers recite the morning mantra? I suspect it’s because these statements mean nothing.
If you are a fan of Scott Adams’ “Dilbert” cartoon, you may have seen his definition of a mission statement:
“A long awkward sentence that demonstrates management’s inability to think clearly.”
Linguists recently announced that “Huh?” or a similar word seems to be a universal way of confirming understanding of another speaker. They studied 10 languages on five continents, including Dutch, Icelandic, Mandarin Chinese, the West African Siwu and the Australian aboriginal Murrinh-Patha. These languages have very different grammatical structures, but all contain a syllable people use to make sure they are understanding what is being said. The variants sound like “huh?,” hah?,” “eh?” and other closely related sounds, and all end with a questioning intonation. Others had proposed that “mama” and “dada” might be universal sounds, but “huh” is much more widely distributed.
For what it’s worth, when I taught college ESL classes, my students showed me how widespread our word “chocolate” is. The accent may be slightly different but you would instantly recognize the word as “chocolate.” So no matter where you are in the world, you will always be able to get your fix without someone saying, “Huh?” to you.