Corporate-Speak: The Use of Language in Business

Corporate-Speak: The Use of Language in Business

Corporate-Speak: The Use of Language in Business

Corporate-Speak: The Use of Language in Business


The world of business is becoming increasingly reliant on language. Corporate-speak is a practical guide for the general business reader to focus on how we use language in business.


Roger . . . has a speech problem. One which prevents him from speaking intelligently in the presence of his business peers. Here is something Roger said recently to a colleague: 'The client has an overly high expectation, market penetration wise.'

What does it mean? Nothing, I'm afraid. Roger is talking nonsense. But did his colleague turn round and say: 'What is that meant to mean, for heaven's sake? No, I'm afraid he did not. What he said was: 'Well, when you're in a customer-focused situation, you need more product awareness than their sort of low-profile image is going to generate.'

Yes, when Roger talks nonsense, his colleague talks nonsense back to him.

This book is about that nonsense.

Why do we use business jargon? When does jargon cease to be jargon, and when does it start being everyday language? Why do particular companies use particular words? Why is a group discussion a 'meeting' for most companies, but an 'event' for some? Where does 'business language' come from? What impact does it have on the way we work?

These are not new questions — the jargon of business is as old as business itself — but they are ones which are becoming increasingly important.

In a world where the information age is more ancien régime than revolution, businesses succeed or fail on the extent to which they can share knowledge, overcome organisational boundaries and coordinate global resources. All these activities rely on better and more frequent communication, whether it is in terms of technology firing digitised data across the world in fractions of a second, or multifunctional — even multilingual — teams working together to resolve a common problem.

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