When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

20 February 2006

Wired News: Literacy Limps Into the Kill Zone

Today I want to talk about the all-out assault on the English language and the role technology plays in that unprovoked and dastardly attack. I especially want to talk about the ways dumbing down the language is not only seen as acceptable, but is tacitly encouraged as the status quo.

Any number of my acquaintances excuse the bad writing and atrocious punctuation that proliferates in e-mail by saying, in essence, "Well, at least people are writing again." Horse droppings. People have never stopped writing, although it's reaching a point where you wish a lot of them would.


Business jargon is simply the art of saying nothing while appearing to say a lot.

As a result, we have CEOs of major corporations who lack the basic writing skills to pen a simple, in-house memo in plain-spoken English. We see marketing swine get paid princely sums to lie about their products in language so bloated with jargon that their lies -- and even their half-truths -- are unintelligible. We see company flacks churning out impenetrable press releases that no editor in his right mind would consider reading, let alone using. We see business reporting reduced to the trite and formulaic because the reporter is either too uncritical or too lazy to take a hard look at what lies behind the smoke and mirrors.

Wired News: Literacy Limps Into the Kill Zone

(Also posted at Knowledge Work)

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