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Twitter Users Are Sharing Their Most Annoying Examples of Corporate Speak

By Petr Knava | Social Media | January 30, 2020 |

By Petr Knava | Social Media | January 30, 2020 |


The late, great, searingly insightful comedian George Carlin, had a famous bit about euphemisms, and how a ‘softening’ of the language with their overuse ends up having a curious effect of muddying reality, coddling the user, and dulling their intellect. Language and its peculiarities and misuses was the spine running through Carlin’s work for pretty much his entire career, but one of the most succinct formulations of his euphemism theory came in his 1990 special, Parental Advisory:

You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth. I don’t like words that hide the truth. I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Because Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. And it gets worse with every generation.

Carlin would go on to list examples:

Sometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I wasn’t notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue. Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the landfill. Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy became partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously owned transportation. Room service became guest-room dining. And constipation became occasional irregularity. When I was a little kid, if I got sick they wanted me to go to the hospital and see a doctor. Now they want me to go to a health maintenance organization…or a wellness centre to consult a healthcare delivery professional. Poor people used to live in slums. Now the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing in the inner cities. And they’re broke! They’re broke! They don’t have a negative cash-flow position. They’re fucking broke!

In recent years, in a glaringly revealing example of intellectual shortsightedness and/or disingenuousness, the ‘alt-right’ have been trying to co-opt Carlin as one of their own, chiefly on the back of this bit, and the way they think he would approach the current culture war that they are waging on so-called ‘snowflakes’ or ‘social justice warriors’. The intellectual gymnastics required to try and paint life-long leftie, anti-imperialist, progressive Carlin as someone who would subscribe to their socially regressive, cruel agenda are formidable. For a start, it’s plainly evident from almost all of his material that Carlin almost always kicked up. He used his privilege and position to kick against the truly evil, powerful forces of the world. He did get meaner and more misanthropic the older he got and the more the world let him down—with the last few specials he did for HBO containing few laughs and many harsh, nihilistic observations—but that tendency never really left him. The alt-right’s attempted co-option is pretty hilarious if you imagine them quoting this part of the very same bit on euphemisms:

Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that. The CIA doesn’t kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people…or they depopulate the area. The government doesn’t lie, it engages in disinformation. The pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters.

‘nuff said.

Anyway that was meant to be a short preamble to a Twitter roundup but f**k me, when I get talking about George Carlin it becomes a right runaway train like straight away. Here, this is what we were all getting to: Writer Delia Paunescu asking people for annoying examples of corporate speak—an evergreen display of language designed to soften, sand off edges, and conceal reality:

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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

Header Image Source: 20th Century Fox