sandy henderson – central london copywriter

jargon: the fightback

Finally, someone in the public sector has broken ranks and declared war on jargon. Too bad it was the Local Government Association and not Number 10. Still, somebody had to do it.

Baffled by babble, weary of waffle, jaded by jargon and galled by gobbledegook, the LGA has declared 200 words and phrases to be the enemies of clear communication. It’s not the end of weasel words as we know them, but it’s a good start.

All true lovers of language will find it hard not to have a sneaking regard for the sheer ingenuity – and disingenuity – behind some of them. Shoot me if you ever catch me using:

  1. Coterminosity
  2. Direction of travel
  3. Embedded
  4. Enabler
  5. Fulcrum
  6. Going forward
  7. Holistic
  8. Horizon scanning
  9. Improvement levers
  10. Interface
  11. Iteration
  12. Leverage
  13. Mainstreaming
  14. Paradigm
  15. Pathfinder
  16. Potentialities
  17. Predictors of Beaconicity
  18. Proportionality
  19. Protocol
  20. Rebaselining
  21. Seedbed
  22. Situational
  23. Slippage
  24. Step change
  25. Strategic
  26. Symposium
  27. Toolkit
  28. Transformational
  29. Upstream/downstream
  30. Utilise

You often find that the cleverest person in the room is the first one willing to admit that they don’t understand what someone else is saying. They know that, if they don’t understand it, the chances are that no one else does either. Perhaps we should all be that person more often, and speak up against language that fails to achieve its primary purpose: communication.