Monday, November 15, 2010

LangAlert: "Mature"

Somewhere along the way it became inadequate to describe something as merely "developing" or "improving." More specifically, it was suddenly too boring and bourgeois to say that you "improve" or "develop" something, or just plain make something better.


Along came the invasion of the Formerly Intransitive Verbs. These are words that describe an action that can happen, but cannot be applied to something else. Evolution, for example, is something that occurs over a long period of time. "Evolve" is a passive word. It's observational. It describes something that has changed and adapted to its environment. It is therefore intransitive. Something can evolve, but you cannot, by definition, "evolve" something.

Now comes "mature." Not the adjective; the verb. Like "evolve," "mature" also describes a passive process from the outside looking in. Over time, people, animals and plants mature. It's like micro-evolution; except that it describes a cyclical, self-contained process of development in one person or thing, rather than the collective, cumulative change and adaptation of an entire species.

But these facts never stop the CorporateSpeakanistas. Did you know that you can now hire someone to "mature your processes"? Not "improve" them. Not "make them better." But "mature" them. Because hey, if you don't mature your processes, how can you evolve your business?