Thursday, June 9, 2005

MH - To Verb or Not to Verb? Let's Dialogue It

The hometown paper had this article yesterday on verbing, that annoying confirmation of our growing illiteracy wherein people take perfectly good nouns and turn them into verbs. (One of the examples they cite: “Now, let’s dialogue.” Perhaps the worst example: “We want to take you to the White House now, where our correspondent Chris Burns is efforting reaction on this morning's Baghdad blast.")

This is more than just a pet peeve; it drives me crazy. Grammar is like underwear – you have to be very careful how you show it in public. I don’t know whether people are trying to sound more intelligent, whether they’re just trying to blend in by parroting what they hear others say, or if they really are illiterate. I used to work for someone who loved to say things like “Let’s look at our key learnings,” or “We plan to succeed by partnering with another department.”

Haven’t these people ever heard of KISS? (As in Keep It Simple, Stupid; not Gene Simmons.) What’s wrong with saying “We plan to succeed by working with another department”? For that matter, if it’s just a case of wanting to sound smart, why not “We plan to succeed by working in conjunction with another department”?

(P.S. The person I referred to above was so hooked on corporate-speak that they couldn’t leave it alone, adopting the infamous “happy holidays” even when attending our Christmas open house, and speaking of the “key learnings” after coming back from maternity leave.)

Of course, these are the new buzzwords, and there’s nothing more important in the business world than showing everyone that you’re cutting edge, with-it, up-to-date. Spare me. If I ever start to lapse into that kind of writing, shoot me on the spot.

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