The word nerd's plight

 I’m a word nerd. I like words. I like to roll them round in my mouth as though they are foolishly expensive Swiss chocolates.

"Haberdashery," I whisper to myself.



Dictionaries are my porn. I keep a thesaurus under the mattress.

But office language is an area where my love of words has slowly morphed from a fun-loving lusty red into a furious, seething purple-black hole of loathing.

Workmates and their language skills come in a variety of guises. There are those who barely speak, those who indulge in verbal wankery (often incorrectly) and the lowest of the low – the acronym addicts. Shooting up daily in front of whomever they can. They’re too lasciviously tonguing KPI to hear you explain that actually, it’s not an acronym, it’s an initialism. (Go on, look it up.)

While mouse-like colleagues can be irksome in that they don’t squeak unless you dangle cheese in their direction, they are, on the whole, much nicer to sit next to than a jargon whore. You know the type. The person who uses mitigate a lot. Even when they mean militate. They utilise things, but never use them. They’d rather ameliorate than improve, and salivate while discussing their bespoke development. The rate at which they talk about targets, incentives and managing expectations suggests they win frequent flyer points each time the words are uttered.

They are also excessively fond of capital letters.

However, they do have an amusing side – which is when they insist on using words incorrectly. ‘I’ll investigate and revert back to you next Monday. We can then advice the client.’

And then there are the lovers of ASAP. Pronounced A-sap. Like a rapper, yo. There’s a limit to how many initialisms or indeed acronyms you can use in one sentence but there’s always someone in the office keen to test that. Often I have no idea what they’re talking about. Sometimes I wonder if they do, either. Possibly they’re just tying random collections of letters together to mess with me.

But they keep popping up. I recently had to ask what SME meant. Subject matter expert, apparently. Or, as I was informed: “Smug bastards with no time allocated to your project that you have to speak to in order to do your own work.” I hasten to add that that is of course, just one person’s interpretation. No doubt you have your own. It might even be complimentary.

Just this morning someone wished me HNY. Happy New Year. It’s 2012 and I feel the end is nigh.

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