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為什麼管理者們總愛使用行業黑話(上)

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Business

商業

Jargon abhors a vacuum.

行話厭惡空白。

The reasons behind management gobbledygook.

難懂的管理術語背後的原因。

No child aspires to a life talking the kind of nonsense that many executives speak. But it seems that, as soon as managers start to climb the corporate ladder, they begin to lose the ability to talk or write clearly. They instead become entangled in a forest of gobbledygook.

沒有哪個孩子希望過着像許多高管那樣胡説八道的生活。但似乎一旦經理們開始沿着公司的階梯向上爬,他們就開始失去清晰地説話或寫作的能力。相反,他們陷入了官樣文章的森林中。

The first explanation for this phenomenon is that “jargon abhors a vacuum”. All too often, executives know they have nothing significant to say in a speech or a memo. They could confine their remarks to something like “profits are up (or down)”, which would be relevant information. But executives would rather make some grand statement about team spirit or the corporate ethos. They aim to make the business sound more inspirational than “selling more stuff at less cost”. So they use long words, obscure jargon, and buzzwords like “holistic” to fill the space.

對這一現象的第一個解釋是“行話厭惡空白”。很多時候,高管們都知道,他們在演講或簡報中沒有什麼重要的東西可説。他們可以將自己的言論限制在“利潤上升(或下降)”這樣的話上,這是些相關的信息。但高管們更願意就團隊精神或企業精神發表一些宏大的聲明。他們的目標是讓這項業務聽起來比“以更低的成本銷售更多的東西”更有啓發性。所以他們用長詞、晦澀難懂的行話和像“整體”這樣的流行語來填補空白。

Another reason why managers indulge in waffle relates to the nature of the modern economy. In the past, work was largely about producing, or selling, physical things such as bricks or electrical gadgets. A service-based economy involves tasks that are difficult to define. When it is hard to describe what you do, it is natural to resort to imprecise terms.

經理們沉迷於胡扯的另一個原因與現代經濟的本質有關。在過去,工作主要是生產或銷售實物,比如磚頭或電器配件。服務型經濟涉及的任務很難定義。當很難描述你所做的事情時,很自然地就會使用不精確的術語。

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Such terms can have a purpose but still be irritating. Take “onboarding”. A single word to describe the process of a company assimilating a new employee could be useful. But “to board” would do the trick (at least in American English, which is more comfortable than British English with “a plane boarding passengers” and not just “passengers boarding a plane”). The only purpose of adding “on” seems to be to allow the creation of an equally ugly word, “offboarding”, the process of leaving a firm.

這些術語可能有其目的,但仍然令人惱火。以“onboarding”為例。用一個詞來描述公司吸納新員工的過程可能是有用的。但是用“to board”就可以了(至少在美式英語中是這樣的,美式英語中的“a plane boarding passengers”比英式英語中的“passengers boarding a plane”要舒服得多)。添加“on”的唯一目的似乎是創造另一個同樣令人厭惡的詞“offboarding”,也就是離開公司的過程。

Overblown language is also used when the actual business is prosaic. Private Eye, a British satirical magazine that often mocks corporate flimflam, used to have a regular column pointing out the absurd tendency of companies to tag the word “solutions” onto a product; carpets became “floor-covering solutions”. (Bartleby has long wanted to start a business devoted to dissolving items in water so it could be called “Solution Solutions”.) Nowadays, the target for mockery is the use of the term DNA, as in “perfect customer service is in our DNA”.

當實際業務平淡無奇時,人們也會使用誇張的語言。英國諷刺雜誌《私家偵探》經常嘲諷企業的鬼話,它曾開設固定專欄,指出企業在產品上貼上“解決方案”一詞的荒謬趨勢;地毯變成“覆蓋地板的解決方案”。(巴託比一直想創辦一家致力於將物品溶解在水中的公司,這樣它就可以被稱為“溶液解決方案”。)如今,人們的嘲笑對象是DNA這個詞的使用,比如“完美的客户服務存在於我們的DNA中”。

譯文由可可原創,僅供學習交流使用,未經許可請勿轉載。

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phenomenon [fi'nɔminən]

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n. 現象,跡象,(稀有)事件

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describe [dis'kraib]

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vt. 描述,畫(尤指幾何圖形),説成

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vacuum ['vækjuəm]

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n. 真空,空間,真空吸塵器
adj. 真空的

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explanation [.eksplə'neiʃən]

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n. 解釋,説明

 
imprecise [,impri'sais]

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adj. 不精確的;不嚴密的;不確切的

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plane [plein]

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adj. 平的,與飛機有關的
n. 飛機,水平

 
gadgets [gæ,dʒets]

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n. 小配件;小工具(gadget的複數)

 
obscure [əb'skjuə]

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adj. 微暗的,難解的,不著名的,[語音學]輕音的

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legal ['li:gəl]

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adj. 法律的,合法的,法定的

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tendency ['tendənsi]

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n. 趨勢,傾向

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