16 March, 2006

Ttly. Fckd.

One thing that I've always tried to maintain in whatever point of my life wherever I may be is the practice of plain English. It pisses me off beyond reason to find myself in situations where people use ten words where two will do, or dress up simple propositions with fancy, fussy terminology, or who promulgate meaningless business-speak purely for the sake of it.

Unfortunately I am now doing a job for an organisation entirely built upon all three of these demented principles, and even though I've only been there two weeks I'm finding the culture shock almost completely overwhelming.

It's been somewhat akin to arriving in a foreign country and suddenly being immersed in the din of an alien language - except in 99% of foreign countries you can more often than not easily identify what language it is that's being spoken, even if you can't comprehend any of the words. Here it's like being in a foreign land but not being able to classify or categorise the language at all. Well, not that I'd describe what I've been hearing as a language per se. I have honestly never been in a place where ordinary words are bowdlerised and butchered as much as this.

Anything that can be reduced to a pointless acronym or abbreviation is fair game. In a meeting I had to attend earlier this week I was solemnly informed the company is in the middle of FY06Q3. Nobody else took a blind bit of notice of this gobbledegook. Indeed, several other people parroted exactly the same phrase back at the speaker. It took me ages to fathom the meaning: the third quarter of the 2006 financial year.

Now what's wrong with saying financial year instead of FY? Nothing. It might take a bit longer, but what you lose in precious seconds you gain in humanity. Yet it seems notions of common sense and literalism have no place where I work. Tasks are "actioned" instead of completed. Ideas are "grown" instead of developed. Conversations between two people are officially billed as 121s. Feedback from members of the public is called Usr. Sats. (user satisfaction). There are things called CDPs, CTs, UUs and - worse of all - Net. Cal. As, about which I have only the merest of knowledge, but which seem to mean a hell of a lot. Then there are the meetings themselves, which revolve around the discussion of "green flags", "amber flags" and "red flags". Green is good stuff. Amber is so-so. Red is crap.

Have you ever heard the like? It's using words as tools to intimidate and oppress, to make outsiders and newcomers feel lowly and awed, to dress up the trivial as something thunderously important. And it's a load of bollocks. It's also dangerous, for along these roads lies the eventual death of a sensible, rational English language. I feel no part of this kind of culture. Unfortunately I am lumbered with having to work, if not for it, then at least surrounded by it. So I guess I'm Ttly. Fckd.


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