Bureaucratic Jargon

A new guide that admonishes UK bureaucrats for using jargon ignores what constitutes “work” these days.

The guide advises bureaucrats to “use plain English" and short words. They can no longer ; tackle, deliver, collaborate, advance or combat.

The underlying theme of the guide is that work is tarted up by bureaucrats with words that imply more that actually happened.

For example, civil servants can no longer commit or pledge, because, “we’re either doing something or we’re not”.

The guide says they can do without these words.

But I wonder if they can. In fact, I wonder if many people can.

So much of what constitutes ‘work’ these days has only a homeopathic connection with manufacture of product or delivery of necessary services.

The work is largely about concepts and ideas, and these are expressed in language. For many, language – words – IS the work.

There is also a primitive desperation to connect ideas with the real things. Words help us feel our ideas are having some effect.

Without these words, what will become of the work?

If we remove the ability to pretend there is a connection between bureaucratic navel gazing and practical life, will the ideas become more focused on actual effect? Will it lead to people stopping think-working all together?

BTW: My favourite jargon to drop is "one stop shop”. Govt officials have been making me write about these for years…

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