Tag Archives: Malcolm Baldridge

Words and Phrases to Shut Down

Because the Federal government is shut down (and I will refrain from irate political comments, difficult as that is for me), I presume no one is at work at the US Dept. of Commerce. Years ago, when Malcolm Baldridge became its director, he banned many words and phrases from department writing. If an employee used one, the computer screen would flash “Don’t Use This Word.” Here is merely a partial list. See if you are inordinately fond of any of them:

I would hope, as I am sure you are aware, bottom line, delighted, enclosed herewith, finalize, great majority, hopefully, needless to say, parameter, prior to [I swear I never see “before” in corporate writing], prioritize, share, therein, to impact, untimely death, effectuated, utilize.

I do understand that various professions have their own lingo: lawyerese, educatorese, psychobabble, engineerese, medicalese, etc. The language these people use helps them communicate with others within the same profession.  I get that. My complaint is when they pollute the outside world, when that world already has perfectly fine words to to convey ideas. It’s a form of dumbing down the language.

Remember Woodsy Owl?  “Give a hoot!  Don’t pollute!”

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language