Saturday, 1 September 2012

Malign English

Abuses of English often abound without question. One appalling term is "human resources", the implication of which is often not questioned or else reduced, perhaps understandably by those who do not care to think about this, as "HR". There are other examples of this common in everyday speech.

One is the misuse of the word "impact" as in "It will impact on performance" etc. This suggests that impacts are always totally direct, rather like high impact explosives, things that impact on directly by being set in motion as if the chain of causation was as simple as a billiard ball hitting another.

The more nuanced use of the older English ( I still use ) "to have an impact on" is being made obsolete by corporate go getting power jargon. So these days cuts in services, for example, will "impact on the economy" . Or else "impact on the job market".

It sounds positive in a vaguely menacing way. In the same way a smart bomb impacts on delivery. The fact it might indiscriminately shred people to pieces and damage them is less relevant. If something "has an impact", then its exact nature needs to be clarified by reference to facts. To "impact on" is Orwellian.

Another ghastly use of English is manifest in the term "to access services", using a noun as a verb. This is simply ugly, appropriating computer data entry language to everyday occurrences in life. The correct English is "to gain access to" or "to have access to" something.

Now that implies an element of difficulty, something many might find an alarming prospect. To state you would like to "have access" to something implies negotiation, consent and recognises the existence of something other than one's own immediate needs and wants. Something annoying to the greedy consumer.

For example, it is possible a person might want to "have access" to the thoughts of his or her beloved. If he or she wanted to "access them", the individual could be thought to be a pyschopath ready to use torture to achieve that or some form of sadistic peddler of brainwashing techniques or a deranged hypnotist

No comments:

Post a Comment