22 ugly EU jargon words we really hate
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Over the years, EU officials – and the tens of thousands of lobbyists, diplomats and even journalists who inhabit the Brussels bubble – have developed a bizarre, contorted language of their own. Dubbed ‘Eurospeak’ or ‘Euro-English,’ this lazy, alienating form of talking and writing relies on glueing together vague, abstract and often meaningless phrases like shards of a smashed vase, using long, complicated, show-off words where short, clear, simple ones will do and falling back on unintelligible jargon to express often simple ideas.
EU jargon comes in many guises. There are words and phrases unique to Brussels – like ‘comitology’ and the ‘codecision’ procedure – that are complicated to explain but can be easily translated into clear English with a bit of effort. That will be the topic of our next post. But there is another perversion of language that is even more poisonous – the often meaningless and almost always ugly jargon of modern business and bureaucracy. Tired, technocratic words like ‘stakeholder,’ ‘framework’ and ‘roadmap,’ cliches like ‘win-win’ and ‘level-playing field,’ euphemisms like ‘social exclusion,’ throw-away terms like ‘holistic’ and ‘inclusive’ and a host of other vague, pompous or foggy phrases cloud clear thinking, mangle the English language and act as a major obstacle to communicating with the outside world. They are not,of course, exclusive to the EU but it is almost impossible to read a European Commissioner’s speech, trade association policy paper or NGO press release without at least one of these dreadful words popping up.
Having asked our Twitter followers what EU jargon they hate, we have drawn up a list of 22 commonly-used words and phrases that can be viewed here. For each piece of jargon we have given an example of how it is used, explained why we object to it and suggested alternatives to the original. If there are words you’d like to see on the blacklist, you can post them on our Twitter feed using the #eujargon hashtag. Or send us an email with your personal horrors and we’ll do our best to find alternatives. And if you have become infected by EU jargon and find yourself telling your colleague you’re off on mission to Estonia or your husband/wife that you need to develop a roadmap for mainstreaming household chores into your daily schedules, we can send word-doctors to help. Our course on clear writing will have you writing and speaking like a human being again in no time at all.