Essay: A Field Report on Corporate English

Far from being isolated individual words or phrases, corporate English is a far more layered mode of expression than one might at first think, packed as it is with meaning that often  contradicts the ways people would parse the same words in common English.  

The key characteristic of corporate English is an inherent duplicity - but this is not like the outright dissembling of a con artist or pathological liar.  It is, rather, more akin to the terror-stricken, jaw-clenching nerviness one might expect from a Turkish prisoner or mob informant - in other words, someone who knows, on some level, that the rug could be pulled out from under them at any moment.  

The unique contortions of corporate English, and its sub rosa fear and loathing, continually spin into new variations and phraseology, with a speed and swiftness that suggest a bizarre quasi-sentience - an awareness, on some level, that the language could at any moment be found out for what it really is: the lingo of fascistic lizard overlords from beyond the moon.

Here is a sampling, translated into common English:

  • "Send me your/his/her resume." = I will toss it in a pile or perhaps the garbage.

  • "I'm open to that!" = No. 

  • "We should get a dialogue going." = I need more time to figure out how to get my way.

  • "I have a hard stop in 30 minutes." = I'm important, and I don't have time to dialogue with you.

  • "I'm looping Ted from marketing into this e-mail exchange." = I'm passing buck here; specifically, to Ted from marketing.

  • "Can you cc my manager on that e-mail?" = I'd like my manager to see what an unreasonable asshole you are.

  • "I'll see you at the conference!" = I will assiduously avoid you at the conference.

  • "Thanks for all your hard work on that project." = You have helped to make me very rich ad infinitum, while you will be lucky to receive cost-of-living raises every other year.

  • "We are really excited about this product." = You better fucking pretend to be excited about this product - our livelihoods currently depend upon a facade of enthusiasm that may not correlate to the product's inherent qualities.

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