what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Just Words?

I’ve uploaded two papers in the last couple of days to my website – the first is a note in which I explore why my professional encounter with China last year was so brief. I will talk about this more later this week. The other paper is an updated version of my glossary which is now 20 pages long and entitled Just Words? How language gets in the way. One important addition is the list of 200 plus words which the UK Local Government Association felt it necessary to recommend in 2009 be banned. This was an expansion of an original list of 100 I’m puzzled about the inclusion of some of the words – but I have not lived in the UK for 20 years and have therefore suffered the annoyance of such jargon only from the occasional visiting HRM consultant! There is a phrase I would ban – “human resource management”. Of course, as an economics student, I was taught to consider workers as a basic resource – but I still shudder with the implications of the term. Sometimes I go overboard on this and abuse my position as team Leader – one HRM “expert” (another word I tend to discourage in my projects!) used to talk frequently about “addressing issues” which, for some reason, I found very distasteful. And I explode when I encounter such words as “cohesive” and “governance”.
I find this therefore a quite excellent initiative. It would be interesting to know what impact it had and whether it has survived the aftermath of a General election and massive public cuts. The offensive words included –
Advocate, Agencies, Ambassador, Area based, Area focused, Autonomous, Baseline, Beacon, Benchmarking, Best Practice, Blue sky thinking, Bottom-Up, Can do culture, Capabilities, Capacity, Capacity building, Cascading, Cautiously welcome, Challenge, Champion, Citizen empowerment, Client, Cohesive communities, Cohesiveness, Collaboration, Commissioning, Community engagement, Compact, Conditionality, Consensual, Contestability, Contextual, Core developments, Core Message, Core principles, Core Value, Coterminosity, Coterminous, Cross-cutting, Cross-fertilisation, Customer, Democratic legitimacy, Democratic mandate, Dialogue, Double devolution, Downstream, Early Win, Embedded, Empowerment, Enabler, Engagement, Engaging users, Enhance, Evidence Base, Exemplar, External challenge, Facilitate, Fast-Track, Flex, Flexibilities and Freedoms, Framework, Fulcrum, Functionality, Funding streams, Gateway review, Going forward, Good practice, Governance, Guidelines, Holistic, Holistic governance, Horizon scanning, Improvement levers, Incentivising, Income streams, Indicators, Initiative, Innovative capacity, Inspectorates (a bit unfair!), Interdepartmental surely not?), Interface, Iteration, Joined up, Joint working, level playing field, Lever (unfair on Kurt Lewin!), Leverage, Localities, Lowlights (??), Mainstreaming, Management capacity, Meaningful consultation (as distinct from meaningless?), Meaningful dialogue (ditto?), Mechanisms, menu of Options, Multi-agency, Multidisciplinary, Municipalities (what’s this about?), Network model, Normalising, Outcomes, Output, Outsourced, Overarching, Paradigm, Parameter, Participatory, Partnership working, Partnerships, Pathfinder, Peer challenge, Performance Network, Place shaping, Pooled budgets, Pooled resources, Pooled risk, Populace, Potentialities, Practitioners (what’s wrong with that?), Preventative services, Prioritization, Priority, Proactive (damn!), Process driven, Procure, Procurement, Promulgate, Proportionality, Protocol,
Quick win (damn again), Rationalisation, Revenue Streams, Risk based, Robust, Scaled-back, Scoping, Sector wise, Seedbed, Self-aggrandizement (why not?), service users, Shared priority, Signpost, Social contracts ,Social exclusion, spatial, Stakeholder, Step change, Strategic (come off it!), Strategic priorities, Streamlined, Sub-regional, Subsidiarity (hallelujah!); Sustainable (right on!), sustainable communities, Symposium, Synergies, Systematics, Taxonomy, Tested for Soundness, Thematic, Thinking outside of the box, Third sector, Toolkit, Top-down (?), Trajectory, Tranche, Transactional, Transformational, Transparency, Upstream, Upward trend, Utilise, Value-added, Vision

The Glossary also now includes a reference to the work of a 2009 UK Parliamentary Committee which actually invited people to submit examples of confusing language which they then reported about in a report entitled Bad Language! Paul Flynn – who is one of the few British MPs who has understood that his basic function is to represent the public and challenge the perversions of authority – gives us a nice example in the Annexes.

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