The endless battle against “garbage language”

Complaining about nonsense business-speak may be futile, but this piece – a review of a memoir about life in startup land – does a good job of summing up why spewing out business bullshit is not just intellectually offensive, but actively harmful:

“I like Anna Wiener’s term for this kind of talk: garbage language. It’s more descriptive than corporate speak or buzzwords or jargon. Corporatespeak is dated; buzzword is autological, since it is arguably an example of what it describes; and jargon conflates stupid usages with specialist languages that are actually purposeful, like those of law or science or medicine. Wiener’s garbage language works because garbage is what we produce mindlessly in the course of our days and because it smells horrible and looks ugly…

“But unlike garbage, which we contain in wastebaskets and landfills, the hideous nature of these words — their facility to warp and impede communication — is also their purpose. Garbage language permeates the ways we think of our jobs and shapes our identities as workers. It is obvious that the point is concealment; it is less obvious what so many of us are trying to hide.”

In short, if your ideas are good, don’t bury them in garbage. If they’re not, the presence of garbage is a good indicator.

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