2009/02/21

"kinetic"

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I commented about the stupid use of buzzwords before.

Buzzwords are usually words that describe something really well - and then get raped by special interest groups or sub-cultures for a new meaning.
The accuracy of the language is the victim, and buzzwords take away depth and detail from discussions, imposing an element of mainstream lens and interpretation.

Buzzwords are plain embarrassing if used in presence of those who know their original meaning.

Two examples; I had once contact to a sub-culture in and around a certain German federal ministry (on of those with a 'lesser' reputation for scientific methods).
Somehow they insisted to use the word "innovation" instead of "dispersion". 95% of the uses of the word "innovation" were ridiculously wrong, but this subculture insisted on this laughable use. "innovation" had become a fashionable buzzword, everything had to be innovative - even if it wasn't innovative at all.
The same crowd insisted on using "efficiency" instead of the correct word "effectiveness". "efficiency" was in fashion, and they used it although almost nothing they did was "efficient", but barely "effective" (at times; it was quite a taxes wasting club).

In 2008 I began getting annoyed by a buzzword of the anglo-American COIN club.
They want the military occupation forces to emphasize non-combat, non-violent means of influencing the population and the insurgents.
They had the choice; they could use combat/non-combat (almost accurate), violent/non-violent (perfectly accurate) or a nonsense buzzword.
They chose the buzzword alternative: "kinetic"/non-kinetic".

"kinetic" makes no sense in this, it's simply the wrong word. "kinetic energy" is one of the energies employed in violence/combat, but not the only one.

Well, the COIN crowd thinks that they're much more intellectual than most of them really are anyway.


I advise against the use of buzzwords. Buzzwords lose their relevance after a phase of being fashionable, they create an initial vocabulary barrier and can alienate people who know the original meaning or despise buzzwords. The clarity and accuracy of a language is very valuable.

Sven Ortmann

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