Now in our third decade of technology marketing in Silicon Valley, we’ve been exposed to our unfair share of linguistically challenging content and mind-numbing jargon.
You’d think we would have been de-sensitized at this point. But a recent email containing a slew of cringe-worthy zingers inspired this blog posting. It was as if we were previewing a script for a sitcom on “Valley Technobabble”. Like us, even the laugh track was groaning.
No matter how many times we call it out, tortured business language continues to pollute even the simplest communications. Like cockroaches, taxes and acronyms, it just won’t go away.
The peculiar dialect now permeating every avenue of communications is something that might be best described as “Silicon Valley Speak”, a bewildering vocabulary that redefines (or it is “defies”) grammar, tramples well-established definitions and creates an entirely new glossary of befuddling terminology that would leave even Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, slack-jawed.
What punched our buttons in the aforementioned email was the word “onboarding”. No, this is not a variation on the CIA’s torture tactics, but it might as well be linguistically. The term may not exactly be new, but with all due respect to HR folks, do we really need yet another ham-handed concept to convey “a systematic and comprehensive approach to orienting a new employee to help them ‘get on board’”? What happened to “hiring” or “orientation”?
Alas, we’re not alone in our incredulity at the insidious invasion of the “jargon-slingers”. Credit goes to Christopher Steiner for creating that gem. He penned one of the funniest and most astute articles titled The Most Annoying Business Jargon that takes the business world to task for “cutting its anchors to the English language.”
Let’s face it. We’ve all heard the usual suspect lingo clanging around web sites, press releases, conference presentations and the like. But do we have to stand for it? At Write Angle, we certainly hope not.
To quote Mr. Steiner, “Let the jargon slinger know that you know who they are: a vapid, message-clouding, English-avoiding, communications nightmare.”
Amen to that.
What SV-speak do you hear around the cubes or watering holes these days that cause you to cringe? What do you do to stamp it out?