Leave your jargon behind, please.

June 30, 2008

If you’re interested in words and how people talk to each other, you might want to check out a Slate article called Notes on Catch: Which catchphrases should be “thrown under the bus”? It’s a provocative look at the shorthand we use to communicate, particularly in corporate America. This article expresses a certain appreciation for well-timed buzzwords, correctly used of course.

But it’s only fair I tell you now: I am on a personal crusade to eliminate this laziness from our lexicon. What do you really mean when you say “leverage“? Unless you’re talking about the scientific principle that allows me to lift something heavier than I should be able to lift, I don’t want to see that word in print. I want to pluck your “low-hanging fruit” and put it in a blender with your “out-of-the-box thinking” and see what happens.

Your audience deserves so much more than this. Tell them what you really mean. Don’t worry about impressing them. They don’t want to be impressed. They want to understand you. It may take you a few extra minutes to write what you really intend to say, but your reader will thank you.