Microsoft gobbledegook

Last month Microsoft laid off 1,400 staff, then discovered that they had given 25 of them too much severance pay. The company blamed this on an administrative error and asked the recipients to return the money. Microsoft subsequently backtracked, admitting that it wasn’t worthy of them to make such a request.

A statement by a company spokesperson said:

“We are reaching out to those impacted to relay that we will not seek any payment from those individuals.”

Compared to the finest gobbledegook this is modest enough, but gobbledegook it is; in plain English it seems to mean:

We’re telling those affected they can keep the money.

which conveys the message directly and succinctly, reducing the word count by more than half.

Word count reduction per se isn’t a holy grail, but we tend to use a lot more words than we need. This is especially true of Irish people, bless our wordy ways. Editing a document typically reduces its word count by at least 5–10%.

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7 Responses to Microsoft gobbledegook

  1. Claudia says:

    As Boileau said: Qui ne sait se borner ne sut jamais écrire.

    Translation: Stop the gobbledegook!

    Suffering from insomnia, I’m having a fine time going to your before-I-knew-you-posts. And you haven’t put me to sleep….yet!

  2. Stan says:

    Stop the gobbledegook!

    Claudia: Sometimes I feel this way, and then I realise that in a world without gobbledegook I would have less to criticise and parody.

    It’s pleasantly surprising to hear that I did not send you to sleep. Yet. Some of my earlier posts are somewhat dry and analytical. (Not that some of my newer ones are not, but I think fewer of them are.) I hope that eventually you found sleep, or that sleep found you, whether or not you were reading my blog at the time…

    An editorial suggestion, since you asked before: before-I-knew-you-posts would be before-I-knew-you posts, because posts remains as a standalone noun while before-I-knew-you is the compound adjective.

  3. Claudia says:

    I know now that you will never agree with the severe Boileau.

    Thank you for the dash explanation. At that point, I hesitated for a few minutes. I even thought that it would be nice if you had a 24 hour answering service for your faithful readers in distress. Just a suggestion…

    Wishing you restful nights, and busy days!

  4. Stan says:

    You may be right about Boileau and me.

    Since you are a faithful reader, Claudia, you may access my 24-hour answering service via email! I cannot always guarantee a prompt or comprehensive response, but I will do what I can. In the example just discussed, by the way, the punctuation marks connecting the elements in the compound adjective are hyphens, not dashes.

    Your kind wish comes true for me daily (busy) and nightly (restful).

  5. Claudia says:

    Évidemment! C’est la différence entre trait d’union et tiret. J’utilise presque toujours des paranthèses, au lieu de tirets. Je ne savais même pas qu’un tiret doit être plus long qu’un trait d’union. Bonne leçon, Stan, dans les deux langues. C’est bien agréable. Merci!

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