Aggressive Ignorance

I enjoyed this New Yorker (name drop!) Book Bench post (h/t Language Log), and certainly enjoyed the site profiled in the post, business jargon translating Unsuck-it.

Eileen Reynolds, the author of the post, is dead on with this observation:

It is considered stylish to Capitalize Whichever Words strike you as Most Important [in the corporate office cubicle]

Indeed it is. Resumes are full of this improper important noun capitalization rubbish. Job Duties: Managing Employees, coordinating Office Transfers…

Eileen also laments rampant passive voice usage among the fabric-lined partitions of corporate America. Unfortunately she cites no examples. No doubt it happens but often enough to be a slam dunk stereotype? I don’t know. You do hear it, “All new employees are given it.” / “Fucked over once again by payroll,” but you probably hear the same thing, give a few syllables, through the halls of the New Yorker.

Regardless, within 3 comments someone displays passive voice ignorance. Which, given the forum, I think is rich:

Jack_Cherf: You should note that the passive voice, which expresses action without naming an actor, is a means for the writer to avoid anyone’s individual responsibility.

Oh really? I thought it was just one of many ways for a writer to construct a sentence.

Maybe Jack_Cherf is right about omission of the actor being the tell tale sign, he does read the New Yorker after all. “An uninformed grammar comment was made by Jack_Cherf.” Nope. He’s wrong.

Also: Here’s an n-gram of ‘incentivize’ usage in books for 1800-2004.

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