Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 07/08/03

Crimes Against Language (#2)

I read a memo from a colleague today. I wish I hadn't. For there, referring to the need to take action in reply to enquiries, was the phrase "to respond in a timeous fashion".

"Timeous"???? (*)

I can only suppose that he had seen it in a memo from senior management, or in one of those 'consultation documents': you know, the ones where you can be certain that the decision has already been taken before they 'consult'.

Management-speak is the curse of our age. Not simply because of what it does to itself and those who use it (apparently with a straight face), but because of the effect it has on those subjected to it. The ambitious see it as a form of 'open sesame' - if they start to use it, they reason, then it will show how au fait they are with the latest trends in business leadership and thus boost their credentials for preferment. What this does to the linguistic wing of their immortal souls doesn't bear thinking about, but it does explain much about what is wrong with modern management.

(*) Footnote: although this hideous word does not appear in the Concise Oxford, it does rear its ugly head in Collins. It is 15th Century Scottish in origin, although how much more of that dialect from that period is familiar to management consultants and other parasites on the world of work must remain, for the moment, a moot point.