Every once in a while, something doesn’t sound quite right to me. A politician might engage in some newfangled baffle gab, or a technology expert could coin a new word or phrase that might die on the vine or go viral. I hear company executives working through explanations of a recent event or strategy, employing words like ‘granular’, having superseded the tried and true, ‘drill-down’.
Three instances struck my linguistic funny bone recently.
In a recent New York Times article, Phil Patton explains the importance of a pickup truck’s grille. Mr. Patton speaks to the lead designers of the major pickups from GM, Ford and RAM (Dodge). GM’s Tom Peters, the lead designer on the 2014 Corvette Stingray, explained his design for the new, soon-to-be released 2014 Silverado in the following way:
“It looks tougher because it is taller and wider and sports a new single-piece bumper that emphasizes its horizontality.”
Horizontality. Perhaps this is a new expression of the longer, lower and wider Detroit philosophy that served American manufacturers so well in the 1960s.
In announcing Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr, Amir Efrati writes in his Wall Street Journal Blog how Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, can justify the $1.1 price tag Yahoo is paying for Tumblr. She makes an excellent case for the take-over, explaining, (and here I’ll quote what Mr. Efrati says Ms. Mayer says):
“Ms. Mayer said the companies will find ways to surface Tumblr’s unique content on Yahoo’s sites.”
I can apply paint to a surface. Submarines surface. I could add Tumblr’s content to Yahoo sites. Or, I could surface Tumblr content on Yahoo sites.
In a recent BBC program, In The Balance, Heidi Lubin, the CEO of Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies (HEVT) comments on the Apple and Google tax situation. She notes the long-term consequences of not having these tax dollars at work in the American economy. Shortfalls in education, infrastructure and health could benefit from an infusion of the dollars accumulated overseas. She states:
“I think it’s a real challenge to think through, as we become a global society, how do we share those burdens, how do we effectuate tax?”
Ms. Lubin is only a victim of corporate speak. “Effectuate” has roots in Latin and has been around since the 16th century. It still hits my ear hard, especially when I’m in a horizontalized position, while I surface my eyes with television rays watching the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco.