Any time soon, my head is going to explode. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trawling through the PR-speak of agencies, twitterers, bloggers and other assorted social media-ites (new word) who seem to have invented a language all of their own.
It’s very impressive. So impressive, in fact, that I’m left feeling all worthless as I meander through the stratosphere of the Internet, wondering if I can ever be part of their clandestine world. I’ve read about ‘leverage’, ‘paradigm shifts’ and ‘synergies’, marveled at companies engaged in a ‘cross channel user experience’ or ‘monitoring purchase latency’. Reduced to paroxysms of awe by the mere mention of ‘media interface’…I could go on. But I won’t because, like me, most of you probably won’t have a clue what I’m talking about – ‘not a bloody clue’ as Sir Alan Sugar is fond of saying.
We seem to love complicating language over here, as if it makes us feel tall and exclusive. Medics are the worst culprits – I was once told I was suffering from unguis incarnates – that’s an ingrown toenail to the likes of us plebeians, but I was about to start saying my goodbyes when I first heard it. Lawyers are no better and now those of us involved in Public Relations are at it. Ironic when you think that we are all supposed to be in the business of communication and that, ideally, anybody should be able to understand what the hell we’re on about. But, no, we must litter our tweets, blogs and papers with jargon and irritating word blends.
Call me old-fashioned (is there a new word for that these days?) but I always go back to the great George Orwell on this one. If you’re reading an advertisement or a white paper, it feels like there’s no escape from double-speak sometimes. Orwell, by contrast, was a master with language. To my mind, Animal Farm is a work of genius because it reads brilliantly whether you are a ten-year-old or an academic at the height of your powers. Orwell was quite forthright in his approach to language. In a nutshell, he simply stated that we should say what we mean – vague language can be twisted, jargon will alienate and clichés are lazy…sounds good to me.
I’ve always tried writing with that in mind and it helps enormously. It doesn’t stop me from being self-indulgent or pompous sometimes but at least people have a ‘bloody clue’ what I’m on about. At least, I hope they do.
So, you can keep your ‘paradigm shifts’ and ‘synergies’ if you want them. I’m sticking to good old fashioned, straightforward, uncomplicated language and make no apologies it.
Okay, rant over. I’m off to leverage my assets.