I’m convinced that some disciplines suffer from “jargon envy” and that it starts in college. Education might be one of the worst, but it’s easy to understand why. In a university coffee shop, you can hear math majors discussing concepts asymptotic, quadratic, Fibonacci, Cartesian, and polyhedral. Music majors counterpunch with appoggiaturas, hemiolas, leggiermente, and vivacissimo. Not to be outdone, art majors unleash their intaglio, chiaroscuro, gouache, encaustic, and sgraffito.
But when the medical students swagger in, brandishing acetylcholinesterase, occipitotemporalis medialis, and paraskevidekatriaphobia, the place grows suddenly quiet with awe. Med students are the undisputed champions of the jargon wars. Is it any wonder that Education majors, who speak ordinary English most of the time, should want to baffle the uninitiated just like everyone else?
It’s the only explanation for making verbs out of perfectly good nouns, then gerunds out of those verbs, then plural nouns out of those gerunds … bringing us back to where we started, only longer and uglier. And if that isn’t obtuse enough, they pile on the all-purpose adjective cognitive. It goes with everything.
dialog (noun) -> to dialog (verb) -> a dialoging (gerund) -> some dialogings (plural noun)
“You should have frequent dialogings with the parents.”
Haven’t we come full circle? What was wrong with dialogs? Or even talks?
In many variations, educators (among others) love to add –ize and –ation and –ings to words that don’t need them and shouldn’t have them. It’s as if more letters and syllables make these words esoteric and their meanings mysterious.
Just this week, I saw an ad for a company training series with multiple learnings.
learn (verb) -> learning (gerund) -> learnings (plural noun)
Why not courses or tutorials or lessons? My favorite, though, was “CPU utilizings in Red Hat server …”
use (verb) -> utilize (unnecessarily longer word) -> utilizing (gerund) -> utilizings (plural)
I don’t know where to start with that one. Couldn’t they just say uses in the first place?
There is nothing wrong with simple. Simple is smart. Simple is tasteful and elegant. This compulsion to complicate language smacks of trying too hard. It’s a leopard print skirt with a zebra print blouse, gaudy jewelry, and a silly hat. It’s the clown makeup of writing. What’s next? Learningizings? Utilizingizations? It does nothing to help you communicate.
Beware. Don’t let this happen to you. If you find yourself writing words with lots of added –izes, –ings, or –izations, it could be an early warning sign that you are helping to stupidificationize the language.
©2012 Text CPR, LLC. All rights Reserved.