Tuesday, November 08, 2005

More bullshit

So, continuing my current preoccupation with the language of our workaday lives, I was both amused and interested by the article linked below. It's an extract from a new dictionary hot off the press, The Dictionary of Bullshit. Amused because I found myself guilty of two counts of bullshitting - I always call problems "challenges", and in management meetings I am regularly to be found banging on about the need for "vision". I do always mean something far more interesting than just a "plan", honest...

And interested? Well, first up there is mileage to be had in thinking about the kinds of words and phrases that are being used to bullshit. Then there is the question of how much validity this dictionary has. Has it been compiled using any meaningful technique, or is it just the author's pick'n'mix selection of favourite words? Is there scope for an investigation here into how frequently these words are actually used in the appropriate contexts? How could you find out? Then there are interesting questions about context. Was this dictionary written with any serious intent, or was it designed to be a humorous next-to-the-till Christmas stocking filler gift making wads of easy cash for its author/publisher?

It's easy to ignore the contextual factors shaping dictionaries, as we tend to see them as objective, factual, unassailable sources of truth, but with Viz's Profanisaurus on the bookshelves, a dictionary of new words seeming to come out every five minutes, and now this, we see how easily the public interest in language can be turned into juicy pound signs.

But my final question is this... What's the opposite of hot-desking? I don't mean opposite as in you've got your own desk with your name on it. I mean opposite as in you've got two "desks" (one is actually a chest of drawers) that you hot-foot between because one workstation is no longer enough. What's that called? Cos er, erm, um, that's what I do... Is that bad?...

What a load of bull!


Hot desk

Viz Profanisaurus


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