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  • Plain English isn’t necessarily just the removal of biz-speak vocabulary items. When I lost my job a few years ago due to ‘restructuring’, in meetings prior to the redundancies, I was repeatedly pulled up, by someone from the HR department, for saying ‘so you’re making me redundant’. Apparently the correct form is ‘so you’re making *my job* redundant’. Did it make me feel better to be told that my rôle in the company, rather than me myself, was being fired? No. I was still out of a job, & the mealy-mouthed linguistic hedging around that unpleasant fact made me feel worse, not better – it was, quite frankly, silly and patronising.
    And by the way, the term HR, ‘human resources’ also sticks in my throat a little – what was wrong with ‘personnel’? I prefer to think of myself as a person rather than a (by implication, expendable) resource!

  • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Janet. I overlooked restructuring (and probably many other terms) in my collection of euphemisms for firing staff. Your experience sounds horrible: bad enough that you lost your job, but that they would be so fussy about how you described their decision is petty and pathetic indeed. I agree with you about human resources, but there seems to be no escaping the term. The same goes for consumer – a word that serves to limit and commodify human experience.

  • That’s a very interesting post Stan. Has the term “natural wastage” gone? A horrible, offensive term which has been used to describe people at retirement age. Companies relied on “natural wastage” to downsize. I haven’t heard it of late, hopefully it’s been consigned to landfill, where it belongs…

  • Helen, I don’t remember ever hearing that euphemism before, but sure enough it has an entry here. I would have assumed it meant sewage or something similar! Let’s hope it dies a quick and natural death.