Daily Frolic 18: Officialese

“Hmmm, I was wondering …”


“If you have only one thing …”

“Oh yes?”

“Could it, like, come in a range?”

“A range? No, of course it couldn’t.”

“That’s what I thought. And interaction …”


“I forgot to look it up – English has so many difficult words – can you interact with yourself?”

“Not it you can help it, no; look, what’s this about?”

“I’ve been reading The Independent.”


“They wrote about this important report.”

“Oh yes – who by?”

“They called it ‘the consulting arm of the US computing giant, IBM’.”


“I know. And they guys who wrote it were the ‘veterans respectively of Legal & General and Prudential Assurance’ – apparently.”

“Must have been a hell of a report.”

“But … but I have found it a bit, a bit … how do you say it – mind-boggling?”

“Yep, mind-boggling. Why?”

“Look, I have it here – just read it.”

 “They said: ‘Financial services companies need to develop a better understanding of the range and interaction of a customer’s asset portfolio, which will help drive more suitable product and service responses. This needs them to fit themselves to the way customers organise their wealth, rather than the heavily product-focused approach they continue to adopt’.”

 “Ugh – officialese.”


“Where what?”

“Where is he?”


“This official.”

“What official?”

“You said: ‘official is’ …”

“No, no, no, it’s officialese – jargon.”

“Is that what you call it?”

“Yep. Or journalese.”

“Journalese. Why?”

“I’ll give you one guess.”

“You mean that’s how journalists write?”

“Not all – but some do.”

“Really? In Britain?”

“Well, certainly not in Timbuktu.”

“But I thought …”

“Look, l have a good example here. Also from The Independent. Are you sitting comfortably?”

“Should I be? This stool is a bit … a bit hard.”

 “In that case, I suggest you relocate to somewhere softer.”

“Done – fire away.”

 “As well as affecting how we do business in the marketplace, it is equally clear that customer focus has to change things inside our organisations. Achieving and sustaining this focus on customer satisfaction generally means measuring the satisfaction of customer groups with what we do, and using the insights to run the business – ie to evaluate and reward the people in the organisation, and to recruit and develop people in ways that sustain our market performance. The result has been, on the one hand, that customer satisfaction measurement has been a major growth product for the market research industry, while at the other extreme, major corporates have been inviting customer representatives to participate in decision making in recruitment and selection, and employee appraisal and rewards, to drive the customer view through their businesses.”

 “R-i-g-h-t … OK … so what they are really saying here is … is …”

“That organisations should keep their customers happy and listen to their views – that’s about the size of it.”

“Hmmm …”

“Actually, I have written a whole book about jargon.”

“You never did!”

“I did, I did; it’s quite jocular, though. It’s called An Alien in A Madhouse. You know I used to work in education, don’t you?”

“So you keep saying.”

“Do I? Sorry, sorry. But, anyway, we were paid by the government, and the bumf they would fire at us was full of jargon. That’s what I poked fun at in the book – among other things.”

“The government?”


“You mean the British government?”


“Well I never!”




6 thoughts on “Daily Frolic 18: Officialese

  1. Like Sandi, I also could not wade through that second quote, so I have no idea how the writer forced himself to get through it. Why some writers believe that producing this sort of gobbledygook makes them sound more learned, escapes me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A-a-a-a, but the second quote wasn’t ALL: the article spluttered in the same vein for an entire page (at least 1,000 words). I cannot tell you how much I suffered when I was a qualification developer: the bumf that was being thrown at us was insufferable!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much – love the business clichés in the Forbes post! I poke fun at similar office-speak in my jocular book titled An Alien in a Madhouse, but this list is more comprehensive. Very kind of you to take the time to comment.


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