The Gatehouse Blog

Gunning for gobbledygook

I’ve been working on a strategy document for one of my clients today. This has basically involved taking the output from various workshops, meetings and discussions and translating it into something that will ultimately make sense to employees.

Much as I champion the use of Plain English and abhor jargon and management-speak, I sometimes find myself slipping into it. Every now and again I have to pinch myself and remember what I’m paid to do.

Jargon is essentially lazy and is often used to create a veneer, an impression of technical or intellectual superiority, or simply to blind people to the truth.

As communicators we shouldn’t stand for this. We should put our bullshit radars to good use and do all we can to simplify and clarify communications.

The word gobbledygook, incidentally, was coined by Maury Maverick, a Texan lawyer and Congressman. It first appeared in an internal memo in 1944, when Maverick complained about the obscure language used by his colleagues. He stated, “anyone using the words activation or implementation will be shot". I can’t help but smile. There are few words that are used more frequently by professional communicators than implementation.

We should all be shot!