The Olympic art of shooting fish in a barrel
Regular readers of dadams.co.uk will know that I love modern art... mainly because it gives…
I refuse to use the word ‘leverage’, apart from there in the title, but that’s for the purposes of irony. I don’t have any proof, but I’m sure it was once only a noun – leverage is something you have, not something you do. But sometime in the last twenty years – I remember having a conversation about it with someone who left Lotus a long time ago – leverage started to be used as a verb. dictionary.com now lists it as a verb, the proof is here. My former colleague Mike ‘Spradders’ Spradbery once said that this is how language evolves – the English language is very different to what it was 300 years ago and contains a lot of words that have come into existence since Dr Johnson’s dictionary was first published in 1755. Sausage?*
I don’t really have a problem with the fact that language evolves, but thankfully I have a choice about whether I want to join in. Working for a large American corporation (and it was the same at the previous large American corporation I worked for) you do hear a lot of verbal bollocks. I once sat in a meeting and mused over how many times it was acceptable for someone to say “elephant in the room” before it was okay to punch them. Twice, that was the conclusion I came to, even though they went on to mention it a third and fourth time.
‘Ping’ – technically-minded people know that ping is a command for testing whether or not a computer is responding. Ping the IP address or host name and you should get a response (try it, go to a command prompt and type in ‘ping dadams.co.uk’). But as instant messaging became more popular, it was common to see the words “ping me when you’re free”. Use of the word ‘ping’ has now expanded and chances are on a conference call I’ll now hear the words “I’ll ping a note over to you”. I’m a traditionalist and I’d prefer it if you just sent me an e-mail, because that’s what you probably meant. The really worrying thing is that this sort of corporate lingo spreads among people, like we have an army consisting of numerous instances of Woody Allen’s Zelig.
The on-line version of The Guardian has published a list of 10 of the worst examples of management-speak. Of course, it’s not just management, it’s corporate life. Leverage appears at #7. The rest, in my opinion, aren’t the worst. I would add:
* Sausage – a Blackadder The Third reference, but you knew that.