Sunday, May 4, 2008

And Words are all I have...

Right from our childhood, we constantly hear new words. And then, as we progress on in our education/work/daily life, we learn words specific to our education/work domain, and these words start making a conspicuous appearance in our normal conversations. Hence, if you are a software techie, you would find nothing abnormal about this conversation:

“Hey, look at the message written on that birthday greeting card.”
“Yeah, that's such a beautiful font!”
“The font is nice but the font size is too large.”

As an engineer, my vocabulary is largely influenced by technical and software jargon, and I frequently use terms like “writing in caps lock” to imply using block letters, try to “undo” pencil marks with an eraser, and use “default” modes to refer to normal settings for gadgets.

Lately, I'm finding that technical words apart, a new class of words is creeping into my vocabulary - CORPORATE jargon! And at times it irritates me when I myself end up using bombastic words where simple, terse words would have been enough. So the loo (I just love the simplicity of this word) becomes the formal-sounding washroom, the canteen becomes the cafeteria, the watchman becomes a security personnel, the guy who mops the floor becomes a housekeeping staff, a customer complaint becomes an escalation, problems become issues or concerns, meetings become conferences, and so on. And the more senior you are in an organization, the more imperative it is for you to be aware of such heavy-sounding words, and use them liberally in your everyday speech (even if they sound utterly fake).

I am thankful I’m not a lawyer, for I am told that legal jargon, has some even more scary words! I’ll sign off with this old one :
One day in Law class, Professor Jepson asked one of his better students, "Now if you were to give someone an orange, how would you go about it?" The student replied, "Here's an orange."

The professor was livid. "No! No! Think like a lawyer!"

The student then recited, "Okay, I'd tell him, 'I hereby give and convey to you all and singular, my estate and interests, rights, claim, title, claim and advantages of and in, said orange, together with all its rind, juice, pulp, and seeds, and all rights and advantages with full power to bite, cut, freeze and otherwise eat, the same, or give the same away with and without the pulp, juice, rind and seeds, anything herein before or hereinafter or in any deed, or deeds, instruments of whatever nature or kind whatsoever to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding..."

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