We’ve been having a chat today in the CHOICE office about some of the worst euphemisms, deflections and clichés we hear from industries and lobbyists on a regular basis.
Things like “unintended consequences” as a way to stop Governments fixing consumer problems.
“Innovation” as a euphemism for law evasion.
“Red tape” as a way to kill off any regulation.
What are your favourites?
My favourites (today) have to be cost/benefit analysis and business case. Both have been exploited to “justify” all sorts of bastardry. The MTM NBN being a case in point.
“We will look into it” and “We will get back to you soon” about it all “in the fullness of time”.
“organic growth” “economical with the truth”
‘concern’ -> a problem
‘consulted’ -> found a target group supporting [X] and documented their enthusiasm
“We’ll take that on board”
Translation: “Shut up and go away”.
‘Thank you for coming’ at the end of a meeting -> a polite form of rack off
My goto on this topic is the all Australian Reference and pseudo dictionary, “Weasel Words”, by Author Don Watson.
Described by reviewer Robert Fisk as “the Australian-authored manual of verbal sewage”!
A link to the author and his web pages follows. Yes it does also offer to sell you copy if you feel the need.
Some of the vocabulary has dated, a bit like Paul Keating has, or a cheap Aussie snag left on the BBQ plate uneaten for a day or two. Very dry, almost crispy with the bitter after taste of charcoal and slightly rancid.
If there are going to be winners in either category of @jonathan ‘s wonderful challenge it’s also my pick of the gold standard. Perhaps Don might even offer to assist in some way?
Some of the community may also be familiar with the publication of Weasel Words or some of Don’s earlier works, some notably delivered by ex PM Keating.
My offering to Jonathon, carry it with pride and AS Chem Grade gloves.
Award of “The Polished T…d” on The Gruen TV series still captures my imagination. It describes the behaviour or outcomes of so much in advertising and political decision making. It may now however sit in the shadow of the worlds longest man made sewer, The Murray Darling Basin Plan?
‘Yes Minister” also rates as it can also mean anything other than acceptance?
Our local Federal MP also conducts in his own words a regular community “listening post” in our area. It sounds as if there is a need for some to talk to a piece of dead wood expecting it will not answer back.
Move fast and break things.
Shorthand for I’ve had an idea but I can’t be bothered working out how to implement it safely/properly/legally, and I’ll leave someone else to clean up my mess.
Isn’t it better to ‘move at a reasonable pace and do things properly’?
When major construction or mining projects are approved without knowing what the consequences will be they are often allowed to implement “Adaptive management”. This is supposed to be a tightly monitored and controlled iterative process that allows exploration of situations while not exposing the public and the environment to great risk. The authorities allow this in such doubtful circumstances and with such little supervision that it becomes a way to proceed at full speed into unknown territory while hoping that any environmental damage will not be discovered until the profits are banked.
Perhaps when looking at government and at project management or any major operating mining business you could be mistaken for thinking:
“Stakeholder” - anyone, not a shareholder, who has an opinion about the business or project, and cannot be avoided.
“Business community” - those who think like you and are on your side.
“Community stakeholder” - Anyone who has come around to your way of thinking.
“Activist” - Anyone in the community who has not come around to your way of thinking. Definitely not a stakeholder.
and a special duet
"Statutory Approval of the Project " - approval granted by Statute, IE a real person Minster/Government
“Environmental Approval” - approval not granted by the Environment, IE not a real person person
My personal hate is the term “Our number one priority is XXZ” The XYZ is interchanged with a term relating to the issue at hand and could be safety, health, children welfare, reducing costs, environment and the list goes on.
This terminology just shows that they have media advisors providing key messages to try and appease the masses when a potentially impacting issue srises…and really means nothing when it comes to resolving the issue.
They would be better dropping the key messages and telling it as it is.,rather than delve into media spin.
‘As soon as possible’ -> could be now, tomorrow, in the next year or decade or into the distant future. While many think it implies priority in reality it is meaningless but has come to reflect intent without substance.
This is very like the ‘specialist’. We specialise in (product or service) a, b, c, d, … w, x, y, z.
But which one is your speciality?
Are you dense: all of them.
“We will take that into Consideration…”
“There are too many ramifications that would need to be taken into consideration…”
“self regulation” - who’s in control?
“let’s focus on the real issue here” = what I really want to talk about as opposed to the tricky questions you are asking me
“community consultations” = contact a few people who are going to be on our side
“community representatives” = people who are going to say what we want
“give it due consideration” = straight into the bottom drawer, and then into the bin
“align our thinking” = I will tell you what I want you to agree with
“we share and appreciate your concerns” = OK I’ve pretended to listen, now go away
“we will act on …” = I didn’t commit to anything
“industry self-regulation” = OK I promise to look the other way while you do what you want
“consumer affairs” = let’s hope they are willing to do the right thing, otherwise I give up
How about “trickle down effect” = it doesn’t, we just make more profit
“lower taxes for business creates more jobs” = it doesn’t, we just make more profit
“fairer taxes” = more savings for rich people
“hurts the mum and dad investors” = hurts the rich investors
“agreed to by indigenous leaders” = we got signatures from a couple of ATSI people down the pub
“development” = destruction of the environment or heritage
“self regulation” = do what ever you want, ignoring health, safety, aesthetics, the community, the experts, etc.
“it will hurt the economy” = it’s good for most Australians, it’s bad for me and my rich mates
“regulations” = will affect my profit, bad for business
“nanny state” = keeping the bastards honest
Mission Statement - description of ideals that are never going to be met but they look good on paper