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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My lonely battle against Corporatese

I take pride in writing well. Good writing is short and clear. Any idiot can just throw words together. It takes skill to craft a good sentence. Sadly, there are many bad writers. It is often my painful duty to decipher their gibberish.

The worst writing of all is what I call Corporatese. I suppose its users think they sound smarter by using it. They don't, because Corporatese breaks every rule of good writing:

1. Few words are better than many words.
2. Short words are better than long words.
3. Plain English is better than jargon.
4. Active voice is better than passive.
5. Literal is better than figurative.

The key to writing Corporatese is to do the exact opposite of these rules. Here are a few examples of how to turn plain English into Corporatese:

Plain English: We need the Vice President to sign our budget.

Corporatese: We put together a strawman to get the VP to sign off on our budget. Then, we'll determine how much time we need.

The plain English version  gives all the important information in just 9 words:

1) There's a budget
2) It needs to be signed by the VP
3) It hasn't been signed yet.

I could have saved even more space by using VP instead.

The Corporatese version uses almost 3 times as many words spread out over 2 sentences. Strangely, the author (I am sure this was written and not spoken)  decided that Vice President was too long. 2 prepositions are tacked on to the verb "sign" for no reason. I've heard often that time is money. If that's the case, why waste time with useless words?

I know I'm not crazy. Corporatese is the butt countless jokes. If you heard a person talk like that, you would struggle not to laugh. I know I do.

Bullshit thrives if good people do nothing. I've had enough.

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