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Friday, January 11, 2013

12 Most Supercilious Corpspeak Terms | Paula Kiger,

I like these words!

Well, no, not really. Actually, I don't like most of these words. Instead, I like the way these words are described in the headline ("Supercilious Corpspeak") and in the article.

Kiger writes:

What leads speakers to force themselves to use more syllables than are necessary to get their point across? To use another corpspeak term, perhaps they see themselves as “Thought Leaders” and think this type of language bolsters that identity.
Kiger then describes 12 of the worst offenders. During my 30+ years in local government communications, I heard a couple of them used a lot: mitigate and seamless. Three of Kiger's offenders are in my online editorial style manual:
synergy "I don't know what it means, and I don't have time to look it up." If your readers might respond like that, don't use synergy--or at least explain it.
 leverage Business jargon used by financial consultants to increase their return on the time they're investing in you by making you feel indebted to them for their understanding of the jargon they're using. For everyday, clear use, influence is a powerful word.
mitigate, militate Often confused or misused. To mitigate is "to moderate, lessen, or make something milder, less severe, less unpleasant, less painful, less intense, less harsh or less hostile." If possible, consider using a simpler word for mitigate, such as lessen, moderate, ease, soften, relieve or reduce -- or define the word: The department will mitigate, or reduce, the environmental impacts. To militate is "to exert influence, usually against but sometimes for something." Correct terms include militate against, militate for and militate in favor of. Don't use mitigate in those terms.
Here are the other eight terms Kiger discusses:
  • pedagogy
  • deep drive
  • scalable
  • pink
  • actionable
  • granularity
  • in the weeds
  • robust
For more alternatives to overstated, pompous words; wordy, bureaucratic phrases; and verbose, sometimes amusing redundant phrases, visit Garbl's Concise Writing Guide. The Using Suitable Words section in Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide also provides advice and alternatives on using words your readers are likely to understand. 

Kiger's article is featured today, Jan. 11, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs, available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

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