LangAlert: Linguacopia

I was searching for some screenplays under my bed last night (not ones I've written; ones I wish I'd written, like "Tootsie" and "American Beauty") when I discovered a forgotten scrap of paper called Language Curmudgeon. This was my compilation of annoying corporate language trends in the last year of my previous job.

What's truly disturbing about this list is how many of the offending items have now become so commonplace that they no longer hit my ear like steel wool. Such is language. Always evolving, rarely in the direction you want it to.

Now, the list (with my translations provided in italics).

"Sorry I haven't looped back to you yet."

Sorry I've been blowing you off.

"This will lead to providing third box thinking."

We need to serve the client by serving the client's customer.

"I have also included our top three priorities and a straw man plan for next steps."

Here's some loose direction for you to go on.

"Let's bracket that for a minute."

Hold on.

"We have a similar style and similar footprint."

We're a lot like our competitor.

"We need more bandwidth."

We need more time.

"We'll succeed if we can get enough hands on deck."

We need more people.

"It has allowed us to increase the reach of our available spend."

We can stretch our budget farther.

"We patty our burgers fresh every day."

We touch the meat ourselves instead of using frozen patties from Sysco.

"Let me bandwagon on that for a second."

(Just go ahead and elaborate on whatever the previous person said. You don't need to announce your intentions, and "bandwagon" is not a verb.)

"We want to get to the point where we can say 'one plus one equals three.'"

I have no idea what I'm talking about.

"When was the last time you touched us?"

When's the last time we worked together?

"That's the first domino that needs to be set."

That's the first thing we need to do.

"That's the acid test I've always used."

That's the test I've always used. (You don't need "acid," and you really meant "pH.")

"Is that okay if I kind of dry-dock you for a day or so?"

I'll get back to you in a day or two.

"I'm going to need to dial you back."

I need to cut my budget.


The Wordman said…
it's as though you were channeling my own experience in meetings here in the Death Star -- you always know you're in with a bigshot if he or she starts dropping linguistic cluster bombs such as those you quote: they only let the top risers spout that kind of gibberish, the secret executives argot.

btw, where the hell is Lang Lang in your bumper graphic?

he's as cute as a squirrel on E.
Marc Conklin said…
Wow, I'd never heard of Lang Lang. And that's surprising, given that my mother is a classical piano player/teacher. I'm YouTubing him right now...
The Wordman said…
not sure if YouTubing a stranger is legal in this state -- just be on your toes, seeker of wisdom!

(btw, Lang Lang is a little sappy for me, but a great crowd pleaser -- I saw him perform the Rach 2 piano concerto a few years ago, and in all the slow, heartfelt passages he literally lifted one or both hands from the keyboard and pressed them to his heart)

whenever he comes up in conversation, my wife will break into a vigorous "Lang Lang Lang went the trolley...!"

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