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Corporate neologism

By Vinaya Govind, Nov 16, 2012

After a rigorous 44-hour English training session at a software services firm, I felt I had learnt little. What surprised me most during my short stint with them was that our trainers who talked to us like Dutch uncles on the correct usage of English had no qualms in mutilating the language according to their whims and fancies. I soon understood that language mutilation was not an exception but an accepted practice. So they ‘preached’ but never ‘practised’.

Enamoured by the razzmatazz of the IT field, the younger techies adapted themselves to the environment so fast because they believed in the theory of ‘When in Rome...’ The usage of the word ‘awesome’ is literally driving everyone insane. An overused hyperbolic adjective that it is that techies find it’s fine to say: “Awesome toilet man!” If only someone could explain how awesome a toilet could be or perhaps assign levels of ‘awesomeness’ found in toilets. It didn’t take much time for me to understand that ‘awesome’ here meant ‘awful’.

The word ‘Wow’ used as in “Wow! That looks to be a real bad accident”. I couldn’t understand the ‘wow’ factor in an accident as long as I stayed there. ‘Whoa’ is used as an exclamation as in ‘I was like...whoa!’ And then nothing else is said as if everything is understood.

The other annoying expressions included ‘Know what I mean’ even before arriving at the topic, ‘That’s what I’m talking about’ the moment someone raises a question, and ‘think outside the box’ when you are expected to give out an answer. All those in charge of projects would look to their laurels whenever meetings were called for. The lingo that was common at meetings – ‘benchmark, ASAP (As soon as possible), at the end of day, at this moment in time, the fact of the matter, been there, done that, and so on and so forth.

The younger techies picked up the argot as fish take to water. The café would resound with patter like ‘It’s hella crowded here’, sexy (when describing sexless things), ‘supposively’ (for supposedly), ‘transitioning time’ (for probation), ‘pitcher’ (for picture) and ‘kudos’ (for congratulations). 

It wasn’t long before I felt like a fish out of water whenever I was caught up in the mumbo-jumbo of this corporate-speak. My propensities, however, didn’t let me use these expressions. I decided: ‘No, this latest IT neologism is not for me. I didn’t want my English teachers to roll in their graves’!   


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