Sunday, March 23, 2008

Geek and Latin

A long time ago, when I was in school, I had this friend who used to write poetry. She didn’t write ordinary poems which were consumable by ordinary uneducated plebeians such as self. Rather, had a penchant for liberally using words like ‘opalescence’ and the ‘iridescence’. One day I decided I would also attempt a poem like that. So I randomly looked at the dictionary for words which I couldn’t pronounce and strung them together with arbitrary breaks and shared this ‘poem’ with her. She thought it was exceedingly profound and intense.

Now, why am I sharing prehistoric stories of my childhood? Well, because for the last two days I have been wading through a proposal submitted by our so called Business Intelligence Strategic Partner (Even their NAME is in Jargonese for God’s sake) which I suspect has been put together much the same way.

Just to give an example, ONE sentence yesterday included the following words - syntactic, lexical, pragmatic, semantic and prototypical - all jostling each other in a haphazard manner, purportedly trying to convey some information to the reader. They even had a little graph with arrows going in various directions proclaiming coyly whether they were syntactic or semantic.

In the normal course of events – a document like this would have resulted in me, tying myself into knots, wondering whether this was some divine retribution for catnapping/daydreaming in the briefing meetings. I would assume that this document made complete lucid sense to all the other readers, and would be left with this uneasy, sinking feeling (akin to what Rip Van Winkle must have felt on waking up) that something significant had changed, without having a clue of what it was.

This time however I am seething with self-righteousness indignation .This is one of those rare times when I KNOW what the inputs were –well, because I briefed them myself. It is rather difficult to fall asleep when you are talking – not impossible, I know many good men and women who have mastered this art (not to be confused with those who put their listeners to sleep), but it is rather difficult.

And this discipline and restraint had paid off – for a change I know what the output we were expecting is. I’m not saying it’s is not there – it might be lying gasping for breath under the weight of all those ‘lexical’ words –however I am damned if I can find it. I have carefully waded through a document which, for all practical purposes is in a foreign language, and no luck.

I have tried to upwardly delegate it to my boss. Donned my best earnest-worker face and asked him whether he had read it and woefully told him I needed his wise guidance to understand something. Boss opened the document, read one paragraph, gave one strangled croak and has been playing Zuma Deluxe and avoiding me ever since .

Actually come to think of it, I can’t totally blame the BISP blokes altogether. My company seems to suffer from an argot (thought should use a dictionaried word to emphasize how contagious it is!) epidemic of mammoth proportions – so maybe they are just pandering to the client. Almost every meeting I have attended here, there are this bunch of senior gentlemen, whose only focus in meetings seems to be to out-bombast each other

I’m sorely tempted to play Buzzword Bingo and often longingly think of how the Queen of Hearts would have played it ( “Off with their heads” every time 'usability engineering process modelling' is mentioned ).

Reminds me of this wise saying from my advertising days – “If you can’t CONVINCE, CONFUSE!”

Coming back to bite me. Sigh.


narendra shenoy said...

I just left a response to your comment on my blog, that you should be in the MBA racket, and visited YOUR blog to find that you are. You must be. The innocents don't speak that way.

Awesome post! The Buzzword Bingo alone is worth its weight in gold.

I too am in the MBA racket *confession time* but I am nowhere in your league when it comes to jargonifying. Hopefully Buzzword Bingo will go a long way towards remedying that.

A man burdened, as I am, (wife, kids, the movie "Race") rarely has occasion to laugh aloud but this post did that for me. Thankee. I can imagine your boss's face.*Guffaw* Also, greatly admire your scientific temperament (research into the possibility of sleeping while speaking) and clarity of purpose (“If you can’t CONVINCE, CONFUSE!” )

Such wisdom, in one so young!

IdeaSmith said...

Tch, tch, the client is never satisfied!

Lurrve the title, btw.

Anonymous said...

Well. Geek may be in your title, but MBAs are the ones who specialize in this kind of bs. I'll tell you a few more: check lists for mundane things (and getting cheap kicks out of marking off trivial accomplishments), pompous announcements in geek and latin about something routine to awe the non-tech janta,.. the list goes on. If you spot a tech guy pulling this kind of crap, you know he is on his way to applying to a b-school.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

narendra - yup. guilty.*blush*
wonly i am not guilty of jargonifying what to do..

Buzzword bingo rocks no? I lurve dilbert and scott adams.

people sleeping while talking - well my first job, after about four weeks of going home at four am, me and this colleague were fast asleep while presenting ( fortunately HE was presenting i was napping on the conference table)...He did the entire presentation to the client standing on one leg ( rather like a crane)..At the end of it, the VP said, "you know i would have liked to kill u both - but whats the use, you so asleep you wont even realize it".

Cynic in Wonderland said...

thank u thank u ideasmith - keep on getting this slight conflict of interests where i forget i am the client tho hehe

anon - actually there are a bunch of techies here, who seem to do it more thn the non tech junta ( not to say the latter dont do it) - but all these process modelling variety is more from the tech blokes.

Epiphany said...

The biggest pain - Jargon that is in acronyms. NO ONE except the author knows what it means and you become DDKP as to what it means! BAH!

DDKP - dhoond dhoond ke pagal ;)

Empress of Blandings said...

What ho! What ho! Pighoooooeeey!!!
*settles down placidly again*

vEENs said...

Hey, i m not commenting on this post.. wel i read this one post and couldnt comment on it and now i cant find it :(

it had this addr :-

well u removed it ?!

sad :)

Arunima said...

So, you are a technical writer?

Drenched said...

Hahahahahaha! I read this post 3-4 days back. It has been haunting me ever since and my logical brain has been asking me this again and again, "You idiot, forget about ever getting into management. You'd better join some easy, gharelu stuff like cooking classes than learn to even pronounce those words, let alone learn them." (Actually, my other mind - I am in TWO minds, you see :P - says that I can make fairly long sentences. So, maybe I shouldn't rule it out altogether.)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

epiphany - lets invent a language consisting entirely of acronyms - what say you?

empress - how is cyril wellbeloved? treating u well and all that ?

veens - rectified!

arunima - neither technical, nor a writer hehe. tho i went for an interview just for the heck of it once.

drenched - if you can make long sentences, you should. confusing people is the only criteria for management

gauri said...

//I’m sorely tempted to play Buzzword Bingo.//

You mean you didn't? :P
Funny this was; glad you sent the link! :D