||This article possibly contains original research. (April 2009)|
Corporate jargon, variously known as corporate speak, corporate lingo, business speak, business jargon, management speak, workplace jargon, or commercialese, is the jargon often used in large corporations, bureaucracies, and similar workplaces. It may be characterised by sometimes-unwieldy elaborations of common English phrases, acting to conceal the real meaning of what is being said. It is contrasted with plain English.
The tone is associated with managers of large corporations, business management consultants, and occasionally government. Reference to such jargon is typically derogatory, implying the use of long, complicated, or obscure words, abbreviations, euphemisms, and acronyms. For that reason some of its forms may be considered as an argot. Some of these words may be actually new inventions, designed purely to fit the specialized meaning of a situation or even to "spin" negative situations as positive situations.
Recent investigations have shown that many employees would prefer needless workplace jargon to be removed altogether. Investors in People went so far as to say that this kind of jargon is damaging to UK business.
Marketing speak is a related label for wording styles used to promote a product or service to a wide audience by seeking to create the impression that the vendors of the service possess a high level of sophistication, skill, and technical knowledge. Such language is often used in marketing press releases, advertising copy, and prepared statements read by executives and politicians. Marketing speak is characterized by its heavy use of buzzwords, neologisms, and terms appropriated from specialized technical fields which are eventually rendered almost meaningless through heavy repeated use in inappropriate contexts.
Many terms have straightforward meanings in other contexts (e.g., leverage in physics, picked up with a well-defined meaning in finance), but are used more loosely in business speak. For example, deliverable is used to refer to anything that has to be done by a certain date to be verified by another party.
The phrases going forward or moving forward make a confident gesture towards the future, but are generally vague on timing, which usually means it can be removed from a sentence with little or no effect on its overall meaning.
"Open the kimono" is used in business speak to mean sharing information with an outside party.
Legal terms such as "Chapter 11" can be used without explaining what they are about, e.g. Chapter 11, Title 11, United States Code is about bankruptcy.
Appearance of concept in literature
A similar idea appears in Iain Banks' novel The Bridge, where professional jargons have become so advanced that they have become separate languages.
- Corporate communication
- Corporate image
- Corporate propaganda
- Spin (public relations)
- List of plain English words and phrases
- Bryan A. Garner (28 July 2009). "Commercialese". Garner's Modern American Usage (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 168–69. ISBN 978-0-19-987462-0. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- "corporate argot" in The Jargon Jumble: Kids Have 'Skeds,' Colleagues, 'Needs', Wall Street Journal, 24 October 2006
- http://www.investorsinpeople.co.uk/IIP/Web/In+the+Press/Press+Releases/UK+employees+call+for+jargon+amnesty.htm[dead link]
- "Buzzword of the Week: Open Kimono". dailyfinance.com.
- Bryan Garner. Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195384208., regarded as an authoritative guide to legal language, and aimed at the practicing lawyer.
- Maria Fraddosio, New ELS: English for Law Students (Naples, Edizioni Giuridiche Simone, 2008) is a course book for Italian University Students.
- BBCi (2006) "Workplace jargon isolates staff" 
- IVP (2006) Press release: Investors in People 15th Anniversary IVP
- Reef Business Information (2006) "Managers unable to communicate with staff," Personnel Today