The quest to rid employee communications of buzzwords and management-speak never ends, so it’s always encouraging to find support. Of course, it’s unlikely those who speak in “methodologies” and “strategic imperatives” will read books like Don Watson‘s Death Sentences: How cliches, weasel words and management-speak are strangling public language, but having Don’s words out there can’t hurt.
The author observes, “Rarely in history have sensible human beings found it so hard to say simple things.” He gives lots of examples, analyzing and discussing them (OK, sometimes at a bit too much length). I particularly liked his description of “anesthetic writing”:
“You cannot read it without losing a degree of consciousness. You come to and read it again, and still your brain will not reveal the meaning — will not even try. You are getting sleepy again.”
Most amusing is the glossary at the end. Don’s examples substitute buzzwords in well-known lines from Shakespeare, songs, speeches and other sources and he encourages the reader to think of a more effective way to say the line.