Where Annoying Tech Buzzwords Come From: Page 2

Posted January 8, 2008
By

Mike Elgan

Mike Elgan


(Page 2 of 2)

Some annoying Silicon Valley words aren't new, but irritating new uses for old words and phrases.

One of the most unusual -- OK, weird -- features of Silicon Valley language is repetitive use of the word “so” to begin sentences when we're answering questions. “So,” replaces the interjection “well” as it is used in the Midwestern and Southeastern American states and elsewhere. If you ask someone in the South for directions, they're likely to start with “Well, you turn right at the corner...” The word as used here implies that the speaker is thinking about it for a second before providing a considered answer. In Silicon Valley, they'll say, “So you turn right at the corner…,” which implies that the thinking has already taken place in the past.

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The word “so” is used when the answer is very well known -- or at least when the speaker wants to imply that his answer has been thoroughly reviewed by a committee and approved for public release without a non-disclosure agreement.

You'll hear the use of the word “around” to mean “related to” or “associated with.” For example, people might say, “we're tackling all the issues around consumer acceptance.” Another is the phrase “speaking to,” which means “addresses” or “deals with.” An example: “Our new consumer strategy speaks to the growing demand for GPS functionality.”

These are just a few of the hundreds or thousands of annoying buzzwords incubated and hatched in venture-funded Silicon Valley startups, then forced on the rest of the world by the tech and business press.

Silicon Valley linguistic contrivances like these should be defeated with all the scorn and ridicule we can muster. They replace plain, clear English with the “Look at me! -- I went to Stanford!” insanity that plagues Silicon Valley conversations.

So let’s capture the idea of plain English as a learning that speaks to clearer communication around technology going forward. OK?


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