Monday, 22 June 2015

On Words that are Sadly Useful.

I have long held an attitude of disdain for the verb ‘to prioritise.’ I first heard it some time in the 90s, I think, and took an instant and quite vehement dislike to it. The person who used it was somebody I worked with at the theatre. She was a rare example of a member of staff for whom I also felt a moderately vehement dislike, although I’m sure the connection was coincidental rather than causal.

I gather it was something of a buzz word at the time in those silly meetings employees are required to attend with indecent and pointless regularity instead of just getting on with the job, the sort in which the people with brains keep their mouths shut for fear that the inevitable yawn will betray their lack of interest, while the less gifted open theirs frequently and betray their lack of all sorts of things like vocabulary, intelligence, balance, sense of reality, and so on.

We never used to say ‘we need to prioritise.’ We said ‘we need to establish our priorities.’ So much more elegant, though rather less efficient I grant. Hence, here comes the shameful bit:

I’ve been known to use it myself on the odd occasion because even I am not immune to the occasional betrayal of standards, and it is actually quite a useful word. It’s a quality it shares with another fledgling verb: ‘to unlike.’ Hateful, but useful in certain circumstances.

And I promise to try my best to find something interesting and funny to write about some time before I die. Maybe I should post this in the interim, because it’s funny and all about people using words in meetings.

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