I heard part of a similar complaint on BBC World Service this morning. The broadcasted example was a thirty-nine word jargon-ridden answer provided by the Starbucks coffee company's CEO to the question: "Will you buy any more companies this year?" The real answer was: "No."

In my business dealings, the catch-phrases abound. I am reminded of the joke told by Naval aviators: "An airplane crash is "officially" defined as a semi-controlled descent into local indigenous terrain."

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, choster, waiwai933 Aug 27 '13 at 21:28

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 8
    This just looks like an Off Topic peeve to me. – FumbleFingers Aug 27 '13 at 20:58
  • 5
    The phenomenon is hardly limited to business and hardly limited to the U.S. – choster Aug 27 '13 at 21:03
  • linguistic communication works by mind reading (or mind guessing). the CEO reads the reporter's mind. the reporter suggests that the CEO is weak. the CEO's job is to give some spirited opposition to this mental assertion. – jlovegren Aug 27 '13 at 21:40
  • @FumbleFingers No less than business-minded Forbes Magazine has addressed this very issue, where it was admittedly rather more on-topic than here. – tchrist Aug 27 '13 at 22:06
  • @FumbleFingers Off topic? Darn right!! But we were having such fun with it! – John M. Landsberg Aug 28 '13 at 2:51

One could argue that the English language has proliferated the usage of jargon through the misappropriated belief that a lavish attention upon descriptive diction denotes an appreciation for the details of a given situation.

Or more concisely, it creates an illusion of competence.

And, in certain scenarios, it can completely obfuscate the answer, which is especially appealing when the 'straight answer' is embarrassing to admit. Businesses don't typically like to get caught with their pants down.

  • 2
    Ineluctably, erudite, even arcane knowledge, keys to the virtually glacial nirvana-esque plateaus of triumph, the vertiginous heights of world dominance even if refracted through the lens of remunerative fertility, if you will, necessitate a verbal armor, bastions built of vocalizations, to obfuscate the core vacuousness masquerading as the cryptic essential intelligence which is taken to be the sine qua non of that business's rise to the pinnacle of glory. Isn't that what you're really saying? – John M. Landsberg Aug 28 '13 at 0:25
  • 1
    Induvitably so. – Zibbobz Aug 28 '13 at 13:29

It's an effort to avoid sounding idiotic.

  • Understood perfectly; the sad and irritating part is that the effort is ALWAYS a signal failure. – user50661 Aug 27 '13 at 20:53
  • My point exactly (he said with a wry smile). – John M. Landsberg Aug 27 '13 at 20:54
  • Those who know English well can usually see past the attempt. The talent is (sadly) rare enough that they get away with it often enough to do it anyway. – Zibbobz Aug 27 '13 at 20:57
  • Not sure who said it first, but somebody once observed, "When you run out of ideas, then words come in handy." – Michael Owen Sartin Aug 28 '13 at 1:38

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.