The Dilbert strip at the top of this post boggles my mind. Before I tell you why, I’d like to list some of the reasons for which it doesn’t boggle my mind. It doesn’t boggle my mind because:
- I know people use language like this. I hear it, read it, and try to keep our clients from using it every day.
- I’ve accepted the fact (without liking it, condoning it, or adopting it) that people use language like this for at least one of three reasons: (1) Because they don’t know any better, they think it sounds impressive. (2) Because they do know better, they know it doesn’t mean anything. (3) They know it doesn’t mean anything but they want to sound impressive to people who don’t know any better.
- People can write things using the Bullshit Generator, the New Age Bullshit Generator, the Gobbledygook Generator, the Mission Statement Generator, or any other tool that auto-produces perniciously pointless palaver. And few people, if any, will ever know the difference.
- I’m fully aware of the fact that the larger the organization (bureaucracy) the more prolific and incorrigible this kind of language becomes (kleptus vocabularis). I’ve been there, survived my anaphylactic reaction to jargon and gibberish, and lived to talk and write about it in plain English.
What positively boggles my mind about that Dilbert strip — leaves me slack-jawed, drooling, and dappling my desktop with saliva as I shake my head — is the fact that the strip is more than three years old and we STILL can’t escape that noxious nonsense.
First, I would straighten out the language. (Confucius when asked how he would restore order to the world)
I’m afraid, even if the estimable Confucius were equipped with a crowbar, a Secret Decoder Ring, and an asphalt roller, he wouldn’t be able to straighten out this language. At the rate at which it’s relentlessly bent, twisted, bastardized, perverted, mangled, and otherwise unheeded and disrespected, an army of the likes of Confucius likely wouldn’t be able to keep up with it, with or without help from Peter Mark Roget.
I don’t know if we’re actually doomed yet, kids. But given what we’re doing to the language, we deserve to be.