How Cliches, Sludge, and Management-Speak are Strangling Our Public LanguageDon Watson
15 September 2005
Published by Atlantic Books
When was the last time you heard a politician use words that rang with truth and meaning? Do your eyes glaze over when you read a letter from your bank or insurance company? Does your mind shut down when your employer starts talking about ‘making a commitment going forwards’ or speaks of ‘enhancing the bottom line’?
Every day we are confronted with a debased, depleted sludge: in the media, among corporations, in the public services and cultural institutions, at work, and out of the mouths of our leaders. There is a new public language that has been forced on us that makes no sense to outsiders and confounds even those who use it. It is a dead language, devoid of lyricism, emotion, complexity or nuance.
Meanwhile, in step with managerial thinking, opinion polls and an impossibly demanding media, our political leaders employ this new language of clichés, jargon, platitudes and weasel words to hide or twist the truth.
Don Watson can take it no longer.In Gobbledygook, he takes a blowtorch to the words – and their users - that sterilise the language and kill imagination and clarity. Scathing, funny and brilliant, Gobbledygook is a small book that is as timely as it is profound.