Support the Plain English Campaign

Did I ever mention to you that I fucking hate business jargon, going forward?

Just thought I’d mention that.

It isn’t a new thing, you know: I’ve been around for nearly five millennia now, and it was there when I started out as a young troglodyte, barely able to skin a sabre-tooth tiger.

Bokkhhkkhkhkkkkhkkhhkhhhkh! old Gnurnkllknnllkk used to roar. (That was what they called me in those days: Bokkhhkkhkhkkkkhkkhhkhhhkh: you know the way mothers are, always calling you by that embarrassing long version of your name in front of your friends).

Bokkhhkkhkhkkkkhkkhhkhhhkh! Gnurnkllknnllkk used to howl, let’s take a top-of-the-mammoth view of this overall situation. We need to improve our stone technology to survive in this jungle. We need the best-of-breed axe at the rockface. We need a top-of-the-range big round thing like Flnnarknll invented last week so we can have a big roll-out and scope its granularity. I’m tasking you as the key enabler there for the go-live. Let’s see those deliverables!!

That was when I killed him.

I hate gobblydegook with a dribbling, twitching passion. I hate officialese. I hate pompous business bullshit. I hate those economics commentators on the radio talking quasi-scientific shite with conviction as if the crap they’re spouting meant a single, solitary fucking thing.

If there’s anything I hate more than business jargon, it could be that archaic Victorian language adopted by lawyers and some civil servants. The outdated nonsense intended to confuse and bamboozle you. Language as a weapon.

I refer to yours of the 15th ult. Please find enclosed herewith …

To which there is only one reasonable answer: fuck off!!

What better way to celebrate this hatred of incomprehensible nonsense than to lift a few examples from the website of the wonderful Plain English Campaign? The Golden Bull awards are handed out every year for outstanding examples of gobblydegook, and as it happens, the Crafts Council of Ireland was one of last year’s winners for this wonderful piece of language-crime:

The re-writing of the vocabulary of intemporal Irish heritage is a possible vector for submissions on the condition that this transposition is resolutely anchored in the 21st century through a contemporary lens that absolutely avoids drifting into the vernacular.

Isn’t that great?

How about the Bank of Scotland, to a customer:

We hereby give you notice that Bank of Scotland have retrocessed, reponed and restored Executors and Assignees, in and to their own right and place in the undernoted policy of Assurance by our Office, Videlicet.

Oh, you’re thinking, that’s all right, then.  I knew that.

How the UK Department of Health defines a container:

“Container”, in relation to an investigational medicinal product, means the bottle, jar, box, packet or other receptacle which contains or is to contain it, not being a capsule, cachet or other article in which the product is or is to be administered, and where any such receptacle is or is to be contained in another such receptacle, includes the former but does not include the latter receptacle.

Hmm.  So that’s what a container is.


The Plain English Campaign have a list of before-and-afters you might enjoy browsing, such as this one:

High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process.

Here’s the PEC’s version: Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.

You see?  It’s not hard, as long as you use your brain, which a lot of people seem reluctant to do.  We should all worship at the shrine of such good sense, and I urge you to support the PEC.

I do worse: I order you to support them.

All right. Urge. Urge is good.

They even have a section for websites, HERE

Good, isn’t it?

8 thoughts on “Support the Plain English Campaign

  1. Couldn’t agree more Bock, once again you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’ve started studying business in the evenings and as a scientist never thought I’d come against more tripe than we can speak. But business-ese goes through the ceiling.

    I have just waded through a book chapter dedicated to “Motivation in the workplace”. A whole section was dedicated to the difference between free time and work in some of the most complicated language I’ve ever encountered. It could have all been summed up with this sentence:

    “Work is bad. Free time is good.”

    Fuck sake!

  2. My favorite corporate speak is this:

    “We are realigning our business units in order to maximize productivity and serve our customers in an expeditious manner”

    That means, in plain English:

    “fuckwad! you just got laid off!”

  3. Shoot the puppy Bock, eat the frog , you gotta do it now, we’re ready the push the needle and the envolope………………
    I was on a course ,

  4. Hi Diana.

    Thanks for that interesting link and also for giving me a great idea.

    I’m going to hand out Bock Awards for Hypocrisy.

    I’ll select the winners in a secretive and furtive manner, with no transparency and without independent judges. Because Bock is a privately-owned operation, I’ll be perfectly within my rights to do it any way I wish, but, with any luck, Private Eye will expose me. Then my disgruntled competitors will be able to denounce me to bloggers.

  5. Well. A little crap language got us into the Bahamas. Seems we forgot our papers. On a stopover in Biloxi, wife and I visited a lawyer who drafted us up an affidavit. It had so much legal crap, I think it’d have gotten us into Russia. The nice embossed stamp added to the effect.

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