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Posts Tagged ‘trendy language’

Managing Expectations

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 4, 2012

Managing expectations is one of the business terms that is effectively a trendy way of saying something in an indirect manner.

I thought of the term today when the general manager the team with the longest consecutive streak of losing seasons in professional sports history, the Pittsburgh Pirates, talked about how the trade value for the best relief pitcher isn’t as great now as it would have been during the season. They didn’t use the term managing expectations, but the mighty Buccos seem to have been saying: Sure, we’re going to try to trade Joel Hanrahan (the pitcher in question), but don’t expect much.

In other words, they were managing expectations.

The term is used regularly in the business world, when results might not match expected results. (We need to manage customer expectations.) It might also be used by managers when dealing with workers. (We need to manage employee expectations about raises this year.)

This Dilbert cartoon exemplifies the term as well as anything:

managing expectations image--Dilbert cartoon

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Buzzword Bingo

Posted by languageandgrammar on March 6, 2011

We talk quite a bit here about inflated, trendy language (also a popular topic in Literally, the Best Language Book Ever), but dailywritingtips.com has suggested 24 popular buzzwords that can be turned into a game of buzzword bingo.

The idea is to fill a bingo-like card with annoying catch phrases and mark them off as you hear them in meetings at work, and just like Bingo, the winner is the one who gets five such buzzwords in a row.

Here are a few of the words that would be on their card:

  • incentivize
  • granularity
  • metrics
  • touch base
  • leverage

All good choices!

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Talk Offline

Posted by languageandgrammar on November 3, 2009

As I mentioned in Literally, the Best Language Book Ever, it’s not surprising that many language trends begin at work since we spend so much time there. Talking offline is certainly one of those trendy phrases–one that started several years ago and now is standard workplace fare.

According to a business dictionary, to talk offline means to continue a line of discussion outside of the original context, typically a different meeting, time, or medium. Since being online or offline is typically understood to mean on the Internet or off the Internet, there is room for confusion, especially for those who haven’t heard the term before.

Besides, it’s annoying to hear time and time again when something more informative, such as “That’s a good point, but we’ll talk about that next week” or “That’s not directly related, so you and I can discuss that tomorrow” or “We need to discuss that but not with everyone in this meeting” would also work.

A larger question is why businesses have their own dictionaries. I though that business people spoke the same language as the rest of us; thus, they wouldn’t need a business dictionary–they would merely need a dictionary.

Perhaps this is proof that business-speak is not standard English.


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Larry King on Language

Posted by languageandgrammar on May 17, 2009

When I was doing a recent google search for trendy language (is that really that much more difficult than saying when I recently googled trendy language?), I came across some Larry King commentary on the topic. His comments, found at Larry King about trendy language, mirror many of the thoughts we have.

King touches on the effectiveness of simplicity in language, turning nouns into verbs,  instant cliches, and inflated language. The post says that the article was found in the Bangkok Post in 1996, but it’s still valid today–if not moreso.


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Look Mom, Hands Free

Posted by languageandgrammar on February 23, 2009

One of the terms that I wrote about in Literally, the Best Language Book Ever was our use of -friendly. We use the same construction, pairing a word with -friendly, in ways that are inconsistent, which leads to understandable confusion. For example, user-friendly means that something is easy to use, child-friendly means that it’s safe for the child to be around, and carb-friendly means that a food is conducive to a low-carbohydrate diet. Since trendiness encourages us to slap a -friendly on any word we’d like, it might be nice if it always meant the same thing.

We do the same thing with -free. Typically, when we use this construction, which isn’t terribly articulate to begin with, it is done with -free meaning that we’re free of whatever it is we’re referring to. For instance, a germ-free environment is one without germs, and a carb-free food is one loaded with fat, I mean without (free of) carbs. A child-free zone is one where children are not permitted. Well, you get the idea.

That brings me to the oft-used (and oft-annoying) term hands-free, such as a hands-free phone. Logically, it would mean a phone without (free of) hands, which isn’t all that revolutionary. I’ve seen plenty of phones in my 40+ years, and other than the odd Mickey Mouse phone, I can’t recall any with hands.

What hands-free seems to mean in trendy 21st century America is a phone that you don’t need your hands for in order to operate. That’s a completely different meaning than all of the other -free words, which makes me wonder if I should go back in time and go to my mom and say Look mom, hands free when riding my bike down the street.


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Media Room

Posted by languageandgrammar on August 29, 2008

It’s 2008, and any person who doesn’t have a media room in his house is so 2003.



What I don’t understand is why so many people have the need for a room devoted to the media, which, of course, includes radio stations, newspapers, television stations, and certain Internet reporters. These otherwise ordinary people must hold many more press conferences than I do. I have never needed to entertain members of the media in my house, and if that need ever arose, I’m sure that my living room would suffice. It’s hard to imagine a time when I would need an entire room just for that purpose.


Wait a minute–maybe people aren’t referring to the media room as a room for the media but, rather, as a room where they watch television and DVDs on their 62-inch plasma screen with enough speakers to annoy people two towns away or as the place where the family gathers to play video games or listen to music. That seems to be what they’re talking about, but that sounds suspciously like rooms that we already have, such as entertainment rooms, family rooms, or dens.  


It could not possibly be that we’ve invented a new, trendy word in order to describe something that already exists in an attempt to sound more important or more stylish, could it?




Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever;

Sherry’s Grammar List

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Man cave

Posted by languageandgrammar on August 25, 2008

I know that it’s hard to believe, but even though I’m a man, I don’t require a separate room for my male friends and me to watch sports, watch action movies, drink beer, play poker, hang deer heads, and play pool, with a sign hanging on the door that says “no women allowed.” In other words, I don’t require what is so often referred to as a man cave, man room, or guy’s room. And I’m not saying that because I’m a lousy pool player and don’t watch many movies.

It’s not just because it’s a gender joke (maybe we’ll rid ourselves of those by 2108?), but it’s also because it’s a trite, boring, and predictable gender joke. Poker, deer, sports, action movies–there’s nothing new in that kind of humor even if it’s put in the form of a room instead of a generic comment. It’s also trendy, meaning that it’s said too often. If I were a real estate agent, I’m sure I’d tire of this one pretty quickly…but…with 6% commission, I guess they’re happy to play along with the joke.

I don’t have to.


Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever;

Sherry’s Grammar List

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Posted by languageandgrammar on August 5, 2008

We here at languageandgrammar.com understand that not everyone agrees that the evolution of language, which is normal, should be done based on logic and need rather than on acceptance of mistakes or on a whim. That brings me to the suddenly trendy non-word staycation. I hope everyone agrees with me on this one–it’s too unnecessary and annoying to be used!

Staycation has become the trendy way to describe a vacation that’s spent at home. It’s a particularly popular term now since more people have chosen to stay at home for their vacation, partly because of the poor economy and partly because of the expense of gasoline. Staying at home for vacation, however, is not a new phenomenon even if it’s being done more frequently than before, so we certainly don’t need a new word for it–especially a  new word that sounds destined to make you sound as articulate as the award-winning word ginormous!


Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever;

Sherry’s Grammar List

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