Magazine article Security Management

Eschew Obfuscation!

Magazine article Security Management

Eschew Obfuscation!

Article excerpt

Eschew Obfuscation!

Three hundred years ago Francis Bacon observed that "reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man." This is no less true today than it was three centuries ago. However, in this information age most of us receive our information through television, radio, computers, facsimile machines, and telephones. While these technological wonders make for extremely rapid communication, they also contribute to a deterioration of cognitive development.

Through its advisory councils, the American Management Association conducted a study on public education. Virtually every respondent mentioned deficiencies in English and math among new hires. Some of the comments included "lack of communication skills - reading, listening, writing, and speaking" and "Language and communication skills are miserable. Basic grammar and syntax are abysmal."

The entire responsibility for this condition cannot be placed on the school system. But schools - both primary and secondary - share the blame for the creation of the problem as does the world of advertising, which bombards us with catchy grammar and newly minted words and spellings, and government officials whose careers seem to hinge on the ability to talk a great deal while providing very little information.

A good part of the problem must be laid at the feet of parents, teachers, managers, and other educated people who accept fuzzy expressions and lazy thinking. Our language is really a subtle yet precise device that helps us convey our thoughts and desires.

The young men and women who graduate today with degrees in accounting, engineering, mathematics, or any other specialty often feel that the ability to write, spell, or use grammar properly is not necessary. Writing, the argument goes, is for journalists and English majors.

Why use at this point in time when you mean now? Using five words to replace one is, I would think, not what Bacon meant when he said writing makes an exact man. I am not against linguistic change - change is what keeps the language alive and colorful. However, before a person can be an innovator, he or she should know the basic rules.

When you broach the subject of language and grammar with someone whose communications skills need improvement, you may be told, "What difference does it make as long as people understand me? …

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