Jargonbuster: Jargon of 2014

The World Today Updated 7 December 2018 Published 5 December 2014 1 minute READ

2.0/3.0 originally from web 2.0 which described a site that used technology beyond the static pages of earlier web sites. Now used to sex up any incremental change anywhere.

Synergy, and its sister, Synergizing, is the magic which makes merged organizations more productive. As rare in nature as the philosopher’s stone.

Boots on the ground was first used in 1980, a synecdoche for troop deployment in a foreign country. Bizarrely it has taken until the boot-less drone era to catch on.

New Normal was so on-trend that it spawned a US sitcom under that title. It was canned after the first series, which shows that in our fast-changing world, some things do stay the same.

World War III featured in a phrase used by Einstein in 1949 when total obliteration seemed to be the likely result of the next conflict. But what do people mean when they use it now?

Nontrivial, and its cousin, nonobvious, have escaped from the worlds of mathematics and patent law to plant the standard of Newspeak in academic and policy discourse. Doubleplusungood.

Holistic used to be confined to alternative therapies. Now it is applied to any project that aspires to greater sophistication than George Bush’s post-invasion plan for Iraq.

Conscious uncoupling is PR guff to give the impression that a celebrity couple’s separation was different from break-ups of ordinary folk. It has infected headlines about Obama’s relationship with Democrats and must be banned from discussion of Scotland’s relationship with the UK.

Reform-minded was often coupled with ‘youth’ to mean articulate people in the Arab world who want what we want. It should have a red flag attached saying: ‘Good for TV but not necessarily representative of the masses’.

Shakespeare was right. We are all players and everything we do, up to high-level diplomacy, is a game. So ideas or individuals that change the rules are inevitably game changers. But shouldn’t diplomacy aim to make everyone a winner?