What is “trash language” and why is it so hard to avoid using?
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What is “trash language” and why is it so hard to avoid using?

Attorneys have their legalese. Academics have their own intra-academialogical post-linguistic theories. And it was only prior to the MBAs joined the fray with their own self-important syntax. If you have actually ever been in the streamlined office setting of a start-up or some tech-savvy corporation, you have actually heard it. You may have even picked up on its tics to help you sound smarter, too; after all, that’s how it works.

Molly Young has a fantastic new piece at Vulture about this phenomenon, which she has coined “Garbage Language.” Her post has plenty of insight not only into the ways that we do and don’t communicate, however also how that reflects the other concerns intrinsic in these type of workplace cultures:

[G] arbage language works since garbage is what we produce mindlessly in the course of our days and due to the fact that it smells horrible and looks awful and we don’t think of it except when we’re saying that it’s bad, as I am right now.

But unlike garbage, which we include in wastebaskets and garbage dumps, the horrible nature of these words– their center to warp and restrain interaction– is also their purpose. Garbage language penetrates the methods we consider our jobs and shapes our identities as employees. It is obvious that the point is concealment; it is less obvious what so many people are attempting to conceal.

[…]

When we embrace words that link us to a larger job– that all at once fold us into an institutional organism and demand that organization’s value– it is much easier to pretend that our tasks are more interesting than they seem. Empowerment language is a self-marketing possession as much as anything else: a way of offering our tasks back to ourselves.

It’s a long-ish post, however unlike that padded-out garbage language, the diction is in fact considerable and helpful.

Garbage Language[Molly Young / Vulture]

Image: Canva Studios/ Pexels(Public Domain)

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