Critical learnings: a competition

There’s a competition that might interest you on Macmillan Dictionary Blog today. I’ve written a parody of corporate communication laced with buzzwords, management jargon, ridiculous metaphors and assorted gobbledygook. Here’s an excerpt:

Parties affected downstream are encouraged to utilise their forward thinking hats and realign their tool belts to the non-ongoing contract situation within a short timeframe totality. We anticipate dynamic new overarching metrics of holistic staff wellbeingness at the end of the day. Surfing where the waves are should galvanise a global blue-sky modality that will roll out and trickle down the Monday mood mountain into the value valley.

The challenge (and the fun) for readers is to translate the post into a more comprehensible form of business English. You can do it in a few sentences, or – if your productivity drivers are optimised – in more satisfying detail. Push the editors’ imagination buttons, and you could win a Macmillan dictionary of your choice.

15 Responses to Critical learnings: a competition

  1. John Cowan says:

    Wow, amazing.

    Does a raft of sound bureaucratic to you? To this AmE ear it’s actually rather folksy.

  2. Stan says:

    John: I hear a raft of measures a lot in political reporting and speeches – it has become something of a cliché on these islands. Raft by itself still principally carries a Huck Finn sense for me, but when I hear a raft of…, I expect it to be followed by measures and verbiage.

  3. Joe McVeigh says:

    I hear raft of in both senses – as folksy and as business jargon. But that’s probably because I don’t use or hear it often in my AmE dialect region (I’m just outside of Philadelphia, PA). Maybe I’m just not listening hard enough (and maybe that’s involuntary – thank you, brain.)

    Now that I’ve left my translation of that awesome letter, Stan, I’ll give everyone else a leg up on this translating business gobbledegook thang: Unsuck It, the site that promises to unsuck terrible business jargon. Did I find that site through Sentence First or somewhere else? Either way, it’s fun to see what’s in there. Chances are that what you need unsucked will not be in there yet, but you can always add it or browse their entries.

  4. Hope you like my ‘translation’, even though I only did the first paragraph…

  5. Do I win a prize for filling my bullshit bingo card by line four?

  6. Stan says:

    Joe: Thanks for joining in. Several people told me on Twitter that the article caused them physical pain, or flashbacks, or some other unpleasant sensation, so I’m gratified that anyone read it through and had a go at its translation. It was a test of stamina and sanity.

    Dragon: I do, thank you very much, though I don’t know what Herman Quigley would make of it all.

    Jams: You win a round of applause, and my thanks for allowing me to waste your time!

  7. Glad you liked it beause I stayed up way too late writing it and didn’t get as much sleep as I should have. :-)

    Just for extra fun, I autotranslated it to and fro between English and Irish until it was as close to equilibrium as it ever would be. My favourite sentence: “Thus again our commitment to our efforts with Hamas central transparent assessment methodologies to demonstrate the successful implementation of best practices for anti-cooperative decruitment engineering.

  8. It was an utter pleasure to read such beautifully crafted nonsense Stan.

  9. Stan says:

    Dragon: Let’s hope you can catch up on sleep soon. Thanks for the equilibrated text; if I saw it in a corporate report, only the word Hamas would raise an eyebrow!

    Jams: Deriving what pleasure we can from such logorrhoea is preferable to the despair that might be our initial instinct.

  10. Rob Young says:

    Why do you think this is a parody? I didn’t see aything there that managers in my company wouldn’t happily write, thinking they had said something profound.

  11. Stan says:

    Rob: I’d hate to think that management speak is beyond parody. Things could be worse than I thought.

  12. John Cowan says:

    The mathematics professor and songwriter Tom Lehrer is said to have given up writing topical songs because in a world in which Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize political satire was impossible.

  13. Stan says:

    John: I think obsolete is the word Lehrer used, and he had stopped performing by then anyway, but the sentiment is much the same.

  14. […] a full article of it, “Critical learnings, going forward”, which I’ve already introduced here. A competition was held to translate the text into more meaningful English, and the submissions […]

  15. […] considers the best arsenal at our disposal: scorn. (On this point I’m inclined to agree, having lampooned office jargon for a competition at Macmillan Dictionary […]

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