The obvious creep of unnecessary English

Posted on 27 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

Obviously the obvious overuse of the word obvious is not obvious.

In the late 1980s, it was the word ‘like’. In the mid 1990s, it was the word ‘whatever’. In south London, it is the slang word ‘innit’. In Essex, it is the phrase ‘Know what I mean?’. In Australia, it is the word ‘crikey’ (no not really). And in workplaces across England, it is the word ‘obvious’ and its adverb variation ‘obviously’.

Consistently the English language becomes infested with words and phrases. They find their way into everyday speech as a vocabulary fad and surface repeatedly like some sort of habitual expression addiction.

Obvious is far from the only word which has found itself in high-rotation on the lips of British workers. The use of ambiguous business jargon, phrases and acronyms are rolled out frequently with careless disregard for audience comprehension – drill down, fire fighting, moving target, journey not a destination, and process management are just some examples.

Three letter acronyms are trotted out in a vain attempt to exhibit expertise in a certain area, to veil a lack of understanding or accidentally-on-purpose confuse the listener. Acronyms often have a huge variety of meanings which can differ greatly from one industry to another. Even the acronym, TLA, meaning three letter acronym has a total of 72 current meanings including: top level aggregation, text link ads, total laboratory automation, thin layer activation and two location algorithm. Those are just some of the business related uses let alone the mobile phone short hand meanings such as True Love Always or Textual Laugh Attack.

In this time when so much time is spent attending conferences and networking opportunities, consider the background of the listener(s) and make sure people are actually following what you say. And remember, limit the use of the word obvious. Especially don’t start the answer to a question with the word obviously. Obviously it wasn’t obvious otherwise they obviously wouldn’t have asked the question…obviously.