horns of wilmington's cow

By anth


I've written here before about 'businesspeak, culminating in a bit of blue sky thinking a couple of years back. Finding myself in a large new organisation has brought all of this to the fore again. Actually, it isn't too bad here, but in 'learning modules' and documents issued by the likes of HR and marketing about the organisation and how certain things affect employees and the like, there is a very obvious sense of the general degradation of the English language. This isn't through the use of frankly ridiculous stock phrases (such as in the blip linked to above), but through the improvement of perfectly good words with the addition of suffixes... There are five main examples I've come across so far...

1. -ing

The act of turning a perfectly serviceable noun into a verb. Possibly the most high profile is the rise to prominence of 'googling', but to be honest I've some sympathy with this verbisation (to give you a hint at the next suffix). But seriously, there are a couple of task titles for people here which are 'solutioning'. These people are looking at changes to the regulatory stucture and guiding plans to make sure we comply. But 'compliance officer' or 'regulatory supervisor' would be too prosaic it appears, instead they are 'head of solutioning'. Perhaps I should change to 'lawyering executive' or 'legaling officer'.

2. -ation

Similar to -ing where a noun is given an extension which quite frankly creates an ugly new word because the creator has been too lazy to use an already existing word or couple of words that would have done the job. The example I've come across? 'Spoilation'. It's being used in place of 'destruction' or, bizarrely, 'spoiling'. 'Spoilation of documents'. Spoilation of the bloody English language more like!

3. -orial

Note the 'i' in the middle of that suffix, 'oral' would be something entirely different, though I can imagine someone has already come up with the 'noteoral' (a short message delivered orally) or 'warnoral' (rather than verbal warning). No, '-orial' seems to be yet another way of pointlessly extending a word, but this time the pointlessness is itself extended because, and this is important, please pay attention, it does nothing to change the meaning of the original word. At least -ing and -ation create a different sense and are used instead of a different word. Here the new word replaces the exact word which would have been used without the -orial and yet changes nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. I give you.... advertorial. IT'S AN ADVERT. -orialising it adds nothing more than five letters. Are you paid by the letter? ARE YOU?!?! It can be the only explanation for such a ridiculously contrived amendmentisation to a perfectly good wordorial... Stop it. Now.

4. -al

Okay, seriously, I'm going to start getting cross now. You've created a suffix to replace another existing bloody suffix! -ative people, USE -ATIVE! 'Informational', a document is 'informational'??? When did it stop being informative? Hmmm? Instead of taking the -ive adjectival version of the verb you've decided that the noun needs to be adjectivalised by the addition of -al? Why? I DEMAND TO KNOW WHY!

If something informs it is informative, in the same way that something which cumulates is cumulative rather than cumulational, and something that divides is divisive and not divisional. Oh, wait, that one doesn't work. Damn. You're still incorrectional!

5. -age

Not a work one, but something seen on the street which shows that this riduculous nonsense is stretching into the real, Joe Bloggs on the street, non-business world. A boarded up window on a shop. A scribbled note from the glazier that he came to replace said board with some nice shiny glazing but there was no-one there to let him in. Yep. He'd come about the 'glassage'. Not the glass or the window or the glazing. The &*$£ing GLASSAGE!!!!

It's one I've used myself, referring to 'signage', before thoroughly beating myself around the head for not just saying signs. The limits are endless with this suffix. The roadage in Edinburgh is rife with potholeage, especially around the streetage with shoppage and significant bussage upon it. Nevertheless there remains highg touristage due, in part, to castleage, and it doesn't seem deterred by the rainage or the windage...

Now, can we have our language back please?!?!?

(nice to be back to some rantage - as I've said before, when people queried whether I should be chillaxing a bit and not letting things get to me so much, it's actually an indicator that I'm relatively stress free - I couldn't be bothered to write it otherwise... Expect more of a return to form in the coming days and weeks... :P )

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