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I’m Lingua-nauseous Doctor! The Problem with Words

By on Aug 27, 2014 in EquiPOISE - Blog | 1 comment

I’m Lingua-nauseous Doctor! The Problem with Words

With words we build meaning.  We express emotion.  We clarify logic and much more.

In turn, grammatical forms are the mortar with which we construct the syntax to form our overall intention.  By orchestrating syntax carefully, we hone precision.

So the very act of careful writing insists upon exactitude.  According to Jeff Bezos, ceo of Amazon, “there is no way to write a six-page narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking”.  Bezos further demands that his senior executive team spend 30 minutes in silence before an executive meeting to absorb each memo carefully.

But most of us live in a fog of words.  It is easy to drift amid more words rather than fewer.  We experience daily a veritable ‘pea-souper’ of conflicting, confusing and often opaque jargon.   In the world of health, the many mansions of clinical science must co-exist with the onward march of professional managerialism and political correctness.

Easier by far to write: “as a strategic imperative, our next-phase organisational development will require the seamless integration of neuropsychology and neurology departments to better serve emerging patient needs and re-define the most appropriate pathway…” Our word-processor writes this stuff on auto-pilot.  Local kremlinologists will decipher it.

Than? Than simply: “we will save money and increase efficiency by merging the two departments”.

Hard, yes.  But think about the waves of wasted words and wasted time.  Think about clarity.  Think about motivation.

A cure for our collective lingua-nausea, anyone?

    1 Comment

  1. What a welcome blast of fresh air Bill. Excellent.

    Ironically, it’s far easier to obfuscate than to write simply and I can’t help feeling that many senior managers school themselves to writing in registers that not only demonstrate how knowledgeable they are, but also enable them to cloak stark realities behind veils of verbiage.

    Some years ago one of the ‘rants’ I wrote for the Times Higher explored the then current usage of such as ‘driving’ and ‘ratcheting-up’ ‘kick-starting’ ‘drilling down’ and ‘impact.’

    I had been struck by the underlying metaphors which these gave rise to. I could have hoped that by now people would have seen through this nonsense, but a decade on it seems that these terms are still in use.

    Patrick Smith

    December 8, 2014

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