This year’s winners of the Buzzsaw Awards for the worst jargon have been released. The awards, now in their 11th year, highlight this year’s leading hall of shame entrants and it’s great to see “Hop on a call”, “Trying Times” and “We’re all in this together” make the winners list.
The Buzzsaw is an online tool that automatically strips buzzwords out of press releases, speeches and blog posts. The top 15 list is based on frequency of submissions from editors and correspondents worldwide. The Buzzsaw (www.thebuzzsaw.co.uk) is compiled and maintained by Australian publicist Hamish Thompson. “I’ve collected buzzwords since I noticed someone complaining about a sticker company describing itself as a ‘global leader in adhesive labelling solutions’. The Buzzsaw was created to put an end to corporate waffle.”
Paste a press release or speech into the Buzzsaw and the document is checked against a database of thousands of buzzwords and clichés. The document is returned with all matches struck through in red. The Buzzsaw is used by thousands of organisations worldwide.
The 2021 Buzzsaw Hall of Shame (Comments below are supplied by the judges)
Judge’s comments: “This is the latest expensive-sounding invention of the HR department, which is always a great source for buzzwords. A few years ago it was cadre, but too many people weren’t sure about how to pronounce it, so it had to go. I miss the good old days, when group, team and colleagues were good enough.”
2. ‘Close the loop’.
Judge’s comments: “This sounds as momentous as the part in the movie when the hero manages to close the interstellar portal to Planet Bad Guys. Sadly, it’s usually a plea to a journalist to have a conversation about a new solar-powered cutlery set.”
3. ‘Hop on a call’.
Judge’s comments: “This is an overdue addition to the buzzword aerobics list (see also, ‘touch base’, ‘circle back’, ‘reach out’, ‘pivot’).”
4. ‘Hope your (SIC) well’.
Judge’s comments: “This joins the insincere greeting category. (See also ‘Best’ or ‘BR’ as abbreviations for ‘best regards’). If the correspondent (often a PR professional) is unable to get a basic sentence construction and spelling right, they’re doomed.”
5. ‘B2H’ (Business to Humans), ‘B4H’ (Business for Humans) and ‘Humaning’ (defined as a ‘unique, consumer-centric approach to marketing that creates real, human connections with purpose’).
Judge’s comments: “These sound like a cynical skin of niceness. Self-congratulatory terms that are used to promote an organisation’s virtuousness are surefire Buzzsaw Award winners. No further explanation is required.”
6. ‘Mainstream media’.
Judge’s comments: “These two words have been used to undermine the authority of the world’s leading media organisations and have enabled a zillion conspiracy theories. They should be blasted into space.”
Judge’s comments: “Generally, these words are attached to a description of a new process invented by people who don’t get about very much.”
8. ‘Trying times’, ‘now more than ever’, ‘new normal’, ‘nice to e-meet you’, ‘we’re all in this together.’
Judge’s comments: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH”
9. ‘We remain cautious’.
Judge’s comments: “For years, highly-paid financial PR advisors and their clients have sat in long quarterly meetings, at the end of which they (a) advise their clients to use these three words in their outlook statements and (b) invoice them. These are the most expensive and meaningless words in public relations and investor communications. Worse still, they are a statement of the utterly obvious in a world ravaged by a pandemic.”
Judge’s comments: “The lodestone of buzzwords, TLA stands for ‘three letter acronym’, making it the verbal equivalent of a door to nowhere.”
Judge’s comments: “A multi-year entry in this list, ideate manages to suck every atom of joy out of creativity by making it sound robotic.”
Judge’s comments: “It sounds like a diet risotto ingredient and appropriately, almost rhymes with gullible.”
13. ‘Woke / curate’.
Judge’s comments: “These two words have the dubious distinction of having been stolen by the bullsh@tterati. Woke means principled and politically sensitive, but has been kidnapped and used as a badge for complaint against compassion. Curation is the earnest business of researching and assembling a collection. Sadly it is now simply a quick list of anything from burgers to pre-cast brick panels.”
Judge’s comments: “An abbreviation for social media channels. The trouble is, it sounds like it comes from the mouth of someone who uses chest hair mousse and wraps his clothes in tissue paper.”
Judge’s comments: “If you’re spending six hours a day in the gym, a few hours in front of the mirror and you have an immobile forehead, I’ll be the judge of whether you’re an influencer. Aspiring to be one of these third-rate soap stars is a modern disease. No surprise that ‘influencer’ and ‘influenza’ sound so similar.”
‘Content’. Judge’s comment: “Second only to the vacuum of space as the emptiest thing in the universe. It’s like calling literature or journalism ‘words’. It’s the high watermark in the commoditisation of writing.”
‘Disambiguate’. Judge’s comment: “A word that rather cleverly obscures the thing it seeks to clarify. Like spraying mud on windows to clean them.”
‘Human Capital’. Judge’s comment: “The latest in the personnel department’s march towards balance sheet.”
‘Reach out’. Judge’s comment: “My standard response is ‘back off’.”
‘Circle back’. Judge’s comment: “Sigh. Incoming Halley’s Comet press release.”
‘Bake’. Judge’s comment: “Please stop using this as a noun. It is a loaf or a cake. It is not a bake.”
‘Going forward….’. Judge’s comment: “I long for the day someone writes ‘going backward’.”
‘Awesome’ Judge’s comment: “Not since the devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar, has something devalued as much as the word ‘awesome’. To be full of awe in the presence of a tea towel or poached egg is setting a very low bar.”
‘Build the dish’. Judge’s comments: “You’re a chef, not a bricklayer.”