LANGUAGE ABUSE

For those for whom reading is a key activity, language abuse smacks them in the nose when it’s encountered.

I’ve written before about the commercial property agency practise of reinventing the language. This began about thirty years ago in Sydney then quickly spread to New Zealand.

Suddenly industrial buildings were being advertised as high-tech. So in Sydney, where since the late 1960s I have bought over 600 industrial buildings, with a colleague we went to look at one of these advertised revolutionary high tech industrial buildings.

It seemed perfectly conventional. “What’s the high-tech element?” I asked the real estate agent. He shuffled nervously then said it had a higher ratio of offices, which is hardly high tech.

Since I bought my first industrial building in Lower Hutt sixty years ago, I’ve watched the ratio of offices in the standard industrial building rise from 5% to as much as 60%, depending on the activity. But, high tech it’s not.

Here’s the latest nonsensical industrial real estate building agents babble. There’s no such thing as a warehouse anymore. Instead they’re logistics centres.

In fairness, this silliness is not confined to commercial real estate. In recent years, Government and large corporations have abandoned plain English for hyperbolic silliness with job descriptions.

So yesteryear’s Staff Clerk, although today, doing exactly the same job, is now a Human Resources manager. And to add further mystique this must be presented clumsily as Manager – Human Resources.

My observation for what it’s worth is the more menial the job, the more it’s re-described with a grandiose title.

10 Comments

Along similar lines I understand a plumber is now an engineer for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of aqueous reticulation systems!!!

    A classic I saw on the back of a drainlayer’s van where he calls himself a “Drain Surgeon”. Love it

The late George Carlin left wonderful example of this on You Tube in his Luncheon Address to the National Press Club ,Washington D.C.
He also includes “Political Speak”
Delightful

It appears HR have recently morphed again into “People and Culture”

and now we have a senior TVNZ journalist reporting that something happened “more soon” than expected

When a company can ‘t give a pay raise, they “promote” you to a new title

During the 2003 America’s Cup I went to a restaurant in Auckland that was keeping a visitor book of syndicate diners and their roles, they had one entry amongst many others for “Check Signer” Ernesto Berterelli.

Richard S Gretton July 27, 2021 at 9:05 pm

Sir Bob, the proliferation of HR departments in public and private organisation’s is an interesting phenomenon. When I started in the public service in the late 70’s every large organization had a typing pool. Attractive but slightly dull girls who could master typing (I never did, so am in awe of all of them) found jobs in the typing pool. This was the Holly Grail for young men in walk shorts and socks, like me, who spent hours planning our tactics to make it past the Rottweiler Office Services Manager who’s job it was to maintain chastity in the Typing Pool. I, like most ambitious wiper snappers in the service had precisely zero success in this noble crusade.
Anyway, word processors and Roger Douglas rendered the typing pool obsolete and these lovely girls were left bereft of purpose and protection.
But! Just when hope was fading, some genius invented HR! And a home was found! A home and purpose for every attractive, dull, kindly, good keen girl awaiting her new calling. From the ashes of typing pools around the country rose HR departments!!!
God Bless them all.

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