Jargon abhors a vacuum.
The reasons behind management gobbledygook.
No child aspires to a life talking the kind of nonsense that many executives speak. But it seems that, as soon as managers start to climb the corporate ladder, they begin to lose the ability to talk or write clearly. They instead become entangled in a forest of gobbledygook.
The first explanation for this phenomenon is that “jargon abhors a vacuum”. All too often, executives know they have nothing significant to say in a speech or a memo. They could confine their remarks to something like “profits are up (or down)”, which would be relevant information. But executives would rather make some grand statement about team spirit or the corporate ethos. They aim to make the business sound more inspirational than “selling more stuff at less cost”. So they use long words, obscure jargon, and buzzwords like “holistic” to fill the space.
Another reason why managers indulge in waffle relates to the nature of the modern economy. In the past, work was largely about producing, or selling, physical things such as bricks or electrical gadgets. A service-based economy involves tasks that are difficult to define. When it is hard to describe what you do, it is natural to resort to imprecise terms.
Such terms can have a purpose but still be irritating. Take “onboarding”. A single word to describe the process of a company assimilating a new employee could be useful. But “to board” would do the trick (at least in American English, which is more comfortable than British English with “a plane boarding passengers” and not just “passengers boarding a plane”). The only purpose of adding “on” seems to be to allow the creation of an equally ugly word, “offboarding”, the process of leaving a firm.
這些術語可能有其目的，但仍然令人惱火。以“onboarding”為例。用一個詞來描述公司吸納新員工的過程可能是有用的。但是用“to board”就可以了（至少在美式英語中是這樣的，美式英語中的“a plane boarding passengers”比英式英語中的“passengers boarding a plane”要舒服得多）。添加“on”的唯一目的似乎是創造另一個同樣令人厭惡的詞“offboarding”，也就是離開公司的過程。
Overblown language is also used when the actual business is prosaic. Private Eye, a British satirical magazine that often mocks corporate flimflam, used to have a regular column pointing out the absurd tendency of companies to tag the word “solutions” onto a product; carpets became “floor-covering solutions”. (Bartleby has long wanted to start a business devoted to dissolving items in water so it could be called “Solution Solutions”.) Nowadays, the target for mockery is the use of the term DNA, as in “perfect customer service is in our DNA”.