$3 Words

For all those boring and effete intellectuals out there.


When you travel around the corporate world you inevitably run into a lot of buzzwords and catch phrases which we like to use in our daily vocabulary. This may be okay if we are amongst our peers, but it has a tendency to turn off strangers, such as guests visiting our offices. There seems to be a great inclination to impress others with a rather verbose vocabulary. Some people take it a step further and use what I call "$3 words" in an attempt to impress you. For example, today you hear a lot about project "stakeholders" which represent the customers or clients sponsoring a project and are footing the bill. I guess terms such as "customer" and "client" sound rather mundane when compared to something like "stakeholder." Another term we hear a lot about is "agile" which implies a speedy approach to solving a problem. Frankly, I find the expression"quick and dirty" to be a more apt description of what people have in mind."Nonlinear management" is another classic expression. I'm not too sure exactly what this means; "linear management" would imply an orderly progression of decision making. So I presume "nonlinear management" simply means "chaos."

I find $3 words to be very irritating and I'm sure they are used to do nothing more than divert attention away from the subject matter. I know it turns me off immediately. Whenever I hear terms like these, I start to hold on to my wallet as I know someone wants something from me.

Having been in the Information Technology business for a long time, I have heard a lot of mumbo jumbo over the years. For example, I have heard expressions like"data stores," "tuples," "views," and "segments" which, when translated, means"files" and "records." I have also heard of such things as "afferents" and"efferents" (meaning "inputs" and "outputs"), and "central transforms" (meaning "updates"). I guess if you can't invent anything original, you simply change the vocabulary so you can sell more books and training courses. If you have ever had to work closely with Microsoft products you know they march to their own drummer and use technical words to suit their needs as opposed to those already adopted by the industry.

Here's a tip I learned a long time ago: "speak to communicate." Wouldn't it be nice if people used words we already understood as opposed to trying to invent a whole new vocabulary to impress and confuse others? Think of the time we would save just using what we already have. But alas, we live in a world that resists any form of standardization. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, we live in a single country separated by a common language. I'll give you one last $3 word:"pseudo-intellectual" and that's simply referring to people who pretend to be something that they really are not (and like to use $3 words).

Keep the Faith!

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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