Ditch this terrible corpspeak!

Mangled syntax and contempt for the niceties of grammar are endemic in modern business writing. Here are the affronts to the English language that most get my goat. What are yours?

Actioned A verb is a doing word. A noun is a person place or thing. A person place or thing can’t be a doing word. Were you not taught this at school? Oh, that’s right, you weren’t because some enlightened government in the sixties decided it was elitist to teach grammar to the large portion of the population whose parents couldn’t afford to educate privately.

Tasked As above. Ditto “dialogued”, “impacted on”, “skilled up” et al.

Deliverables Let me get this straight - you’ve taken a not-very-common adjective and turned it into a noun. You’ve then compounded your crime against English by pluralising said noun. Not only that, but your “deliverables” aren’t even things that can be “delivered”, like babies or letters. Instead, they’re abstractions such as “excellence” or “synergies” or “sustainability”. I suppose I should just be grateful you haven’t described these “deliverables” as “key”. Oh, sorry - so you have. (See also the linguistic atrocity that is “learnings”).

Socialise Socialising is something I do in the pub several times a week. It’s a verb those of us who care about the English language rarely use transitively - in other words we don’t usually talk of socialising something, let alone socialising it to someone else. So I’m sorry, but when someone tells me they’ve “socialised an issue” among their colleagues, I wonder why they’re so keen to own up to being the source of that nasty little rash that’s been doing the rounds since the Christmas party.

Escalate As with “socialise”, literate people talk of things escalating, but not of people “escalating things”. So prices or the temperature can both escalate, but ask me to “escalate a problem” to my line manager and it's tensions that are likely to escalate. For a start, said line manager is bound to insist I “cascade” his response to the rest of the team - and if you’ve stuck with me so far, you’ll know why I won’t be happy about that.

Around Why use the correct preposition when an incorrect one makes you sound so much more impressively corporate? An executive recently reported that he’d been “talking around” a particular topic with his team. I wanted to say: “Why so timid?”.

Into Prepositional creativity can also make you sound slightly obscene. When someone tells me they’re “reporting into” someone else, I’m tempted to respond with: “Eww. Have you not heard about that thing she socialised around the office last year?”.

For more words that drive me mad, see Thirty words you need to stop using today and Another 30 words and phrases you should stop using right now.