Boil the ocean with a grain of salt

BBC Radio 4’s John Humphrys laments the mutilation of the English language into “management speak” filled with rhetoric and cliches. When this is perpetuated by the world’s political leaders, Humphrys asserts that their slick, hyperbolic way with words can have sinister implications:

Humphrys notes [British PM Tony Blair]’s apparent fear of verbs and mocks his speeches, which are peppered with verbless phrases like “new challenges, new ideas,” or “for our young people, a brighter future” and “the age of achievement, at home and abroad”.

By using this technique, Humphrys says, Blair is simply evading responsibility. “The point about verbs is that they commit the speaker,” he writes. “Verbs cement sentences to their meaning so it’s not surprising that politicians tend to mistrust them.”

Martin Geddes of Telepocalypse once wrote, “The words you use control the thoughts you have.” Personally, I’m trying to ban the words “productivize” and “incentivize” from my local workspace.

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