21st century jargon

An article in The Telegraph voted the phrase ‘thinking outside the box’ as the most despised business jargon. Some of these cliches really get on my nerves. For example: Touch base (2), Pushing the envelope (18), In the loop (20). Others I haven’t heard of: Blue sky thinking (6), Singing from the same hymn sheet (10), thought shower (13).

The BBC News Magazine published an article entitled ’50 office-speak phrases you love to hate’. Tim from Durban, won my vote with a mixed-metaphor phrase from his boss –

‘You can’t have your cake and eat it, so you have to step up to the plate and face the music’. 

That’s not entirely ridiculous if you mean a dessert plate, but then you wouldn’t step up to it, would you?

What is it about language, that it can express something so well that it becomes popular usage, but that its  popularity leads to its demise? Or is it that we are too lazy to define our own meaning so we borrow phrases and use them to death?

What about ‘Web 2.0′, ’21st century skills’, ‘social networking’? Are these bandied about so much that they start to annoy? Are they loved by some, and hated by others? Sometimes I feel as if I should avoid talking about blogs, wikis, Twitter in front of people who don’t use them, because the very sound of these words are enough to turn people off. How should we speak about these things to people who haven’t embraced them?

Which phrases do you love to hate?

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6 Comments

Filed under language, Web 2.0

6 responses to “21st century jargon

  1. “at the end of the day” is the current one that’s been jumping out at me…

  2. Come to think of it, that is quite annoying.

  3. Web 2.0 and Twitter bothered me up until several months ago until I immersed myself in the technologies. Now it’s Ning, Wiki – how exactly do they work? Got to find out so that I’m not a neophyte among techi bloggers.

  4. I think you’re right, Paul. If you’re immersed in something, you accept the term, but if people are throwing about jargon and you’re on the outside, then it can be annoying.

    Best way to know a NING is to join one. Best way to know a wiki, is to make one. I like Classroom 2.0
    http://www.classroom20.com/
    as an example of a NING.
    I used wikispaces for my artmatters wiki
    http://www.wikispaces.com/

    There’s a lot more out there, but it may be a start.

  5. JP

    My environmental considerations prevent me from shooting the elephant in the room. My pacifist beliefs prevent me from shooting the people who use the phrase “elephant in the room” in every context.

  6. What about a ‘pink elephant’? Actually, I’m just realising how much jargon I’m missing out on. Thanks for dropping by, JP.

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