childeric: (Default)
[personal profile] childeric
Oh god, there are times when you're going into work and you see something that turns you from the fairly laid-back chilled sunny sort of individual you broadly aspire to be into a foaming frothing torrent of rage and hatred and spleen venting that wants to fire off severely-worded letters to the BBC (John Humphreys in particular, as he'd understand), Private Eye, the Prime Minister and heaven knows who else. There are, of course, many things that might trigger this response, but in my case this morning it is the van of a company that describes itself as offering 'foodservice solutions'. 'Solutions' on its own is quite bad enough and horribly over-used, but what new horror is 'foodservice'? The poor old English language has suffered some horrible indignities in its time, but 'foodservice solutions' makes me want to set up a sort of English equivalent of the Académie Française. This one, though, would have real teeth: heavily-armed teams equipped with copies of Fowler and the OED and perhaps also a portable scaffold would roam the streets hunting down and wiping away such solecisms: 'Sorry, sir, you knew the penalty, but you have a notice here advertising "apple's". Unless you can show pretty hastily that you are a vendor of products that belong to an apple or an individual named Apple, then justice must have her due.'

Even through the red mist, however, all my rational being is saying annoying, sensible, things like 'You're just being a linguistic conservative. A healthy language isn't preserved in aspic but embraces the new. English is a more enthralling mistress for her many and lusty couplings with all who will have her, not to mention the new and exotic excitements her lively and productive imagination has dreamt up, than ever she would be as some pure and unsullied spinster, shrivelled up in her lofty (and lonely) hauteur (oops, that's French, but that rather illustrates the point, doesn't it?).' Then, my irksome rational being continues, 'And isn't it rather shameful that of all the things in the world that there are to get worked up about, the one that really brings you out in a tearing passion is some idiot caterer riding a neologistic bandwagon?'

My rational being is, of course, looking for a good solid punch in the face, mostly because he (I assume, for no especially good reason, that my rational being is a he) is quite correct.

But oh god, still, 'foodservice solutions': you want a shotgun handy.

Date: 2009-02-09 11:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sprezzatoura.livejournal.com
Evolution is one thing, bastardisation another entirely. May I borrow your shotgun?

On a not entirely unrelated note, one of the funniest things I have seen all week is a Facebook advert for an online IQ test. It reads "2 friends think your dumb".

Date: 2009-02-09 11:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] childeric.livejournal.com
My dumb what? God, yes, that's splendid.

And, absolutely, there's plenty of legitimate centre ground for those who are happy to accept useful and elegant new words or new uses for old words but don't think that that means welcoming all and every illiteracy or barbarism that comes along.

Date: 2009-02-09 11:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] makyo.livejournal.com
My friends Ben and Kryzi set themselves alphabet challenges every year - last year's was to go to see a band for every letter of the alphabet, and this year's is meat-related. On Saturday lunchtime they invited a group of us round to help with Q (for quail) and O (for ox). On the way round to their house we passed a large building with a sign proclaiming "Fusion: Contact centre services and solutions (part of the BGL Group)". I still have no idea what this might mean. We seem to have replaced our industrial manufacturing industry with... erm... I don't know what. Some sort of vague buzzword economy, perhaps.

Date: 2009-02-09 11:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] childeric.livejournal.com
X and Z are definitely going to be difficult. Zebra might be had in Borough Market, I suppose, but I'm having trouble thinking of anything for X. Presumably they have something up their sleeves, though?

Does it have to be an actual species? Could you get away with 'ungulate' for U, for instance? And would Latin do? Could you eat ursus, f'rinstance?

Date: 2009-02-09 11:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] makyo.livejournal.com
I don't know - I suspect that they're sticking to English names, and that general groupings such as 'lizards' or 'kine' probably aren't allowed either.

(I've just realised that I wrote 'industrial manufacturing industry' above. Sorry about that - in accordance with the Fundamental Theorem of Grammar Discussions, I failed to proof-read properly before I hit the 'Post comment' button.)

Xebu.

Date: 2009-02-09 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zotz.livejournal.com
It's a kind of tropical cow.

What annoys me about these crazes is their imprecision, not just their pretension. A "foodservice solution" could be anything. If someone said they were a caterer or a wholesale catering supplier you'd actually have some idea what they did.

On a slightly wider scale, it bugs me intensely that companies (and, indeed, now charities) need to have completely meaningless names. The Defence Research Agency decided on Qinetiq, which tells you nothing about who they are or what they do. Norwich Union, which is at least vaguely informative in context, want to be Aviva, which isn't. The Spastics Society had to change their name for obvious reasons, but because their new name's so bland I can never remember what they're called and when they're collecting on the street I don't generally connect their new name to them for about a hundred yards, by which time it's too late for them to get anything from me. If they'd included the word "palsy" in their name somewhere they'd have had a lot more money off me recently than they actually have.

Bah, humbug. Still, we've got decent snow up here, finally. The castle's looking fantastic.

Re: Xebu.

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Date: 2009-02-09 11:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-soap.livejournal.com
They'll have issue unless resorting to Latin. Xenarthra would allow armadillo, which is apparently like young suckling pig when roasted. Otherwise you'd have to cheat and go for Ibex; which at least ends with the correct letter.

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Date: 2009-02-09 06:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] valkyriekaren.livejournal.com
Zebra fish are readily available in Caribbean fishmongers. As long as you can get over the 'I found Nemo' moment at the fish counter, anyway.

Date: 2009-02-09 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hirez.livejournal.com
Going forward, buzzwords will enable cost-saving synergies as SME's execute workforce balancing and incentivize partnering organisations with innovative go-to-market strategies.

... I'm going to go and throw up now.

And also this: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/466122.James_D_Nichols

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Date: 2009-02-09 11:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rich-r.livejournal.com
A contact centre is the current terminology for what would have been known as a 'call centre'. Somewhere that people telephone, fax or email in order to get in contact with a company. Due to the fact that email is taking over from telephone the name has changed.

So I would guess that this 'Fusion' company provides a room full of people to answer the phone or emails on behalf of your company, for a fee.

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Date: 2009-02-09 11:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_nicolai_/
It's also probably a lie: "foodservice solutions providers" don't provide any significant level of service or anything I'd call "food", and therefore are not a solution to the relevant problem of being hungry.

Date: 2009-02-09 11:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] makyo.livejournal.com
I've been wondering about this sort of thing for a while, and I've come to the conclusion that companies with no particular interest in customer service or quality control deliberately use words like 'services' or 'quality' in their names as a kind of half-hearted (but often effective) misdirection. In much the same way that oppressive military dictatorships tend to call themselves 'People's Democratic Republics' or similar.

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Date: 2009-02-09 11:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tashaa.livejournal.com
"Stomachservice solutions..ensuring your stomach is running on all cylinders"

Date: 2009-02-09 11:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tashaa.livejournal.com
Maybe they service food..you know like reinflating deflated souffles etc..their handy team of food servicers come round and fix your groceries. I bet you get a certificate and everything!

Date: 2009-02-09 01:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hirez.livejournal.com
Where I grew up (on an farm, oo-arr, moles be rising, etc.) 'servicing' was what happened when the ram got introduced to the ewes.

So, um, disturbing mental image right there.

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Date: 2009-02-09 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ivory-goddess.livejournal.com
wants to fire off severely-worded letters to ... Private Eye

Private Eye already has a regular section for companies that advertise themselves as 'solutions', and a translation to describe what they (probably) actually do.

I'd send in your 'foodservice solutions' if I were you. Might make you feel better to see it ridiculed in print.

Date: 2009-02-09 12:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moral-vacuum.livejournal.com
You may like this http://www.dack.com/web/bullshit.html, the Web Economy Bullshit Generator. It's 8 years old now, but it's still very good.

Leverage bleeding-edge infomediaries.

Date: 2009-02-09 12:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mr-tom.livejournal.com
Admit it, you've only posted this to rile [livejournal.com profile] steer, haven't you?

My particular bugbear is when people^W managers mis-use engineering terms in the wrong context.

Date: 2009-02-09 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] childeric.livejournal.com
Luckily I was away on Friday when someone posted this (http://steer.livejournal.com/) and so I didn't see it and have to respond to the nonsense about history.

Date: 2009-02-09 01:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-d-medievalist.livejournal.com
Um ...

SLAC considers ethnocentrism an important institutional challenge and developed the Going Global: First Year Seminar program to introduce ethnorelative ways of knowing to the campus.


At least you can figure out that 'foodservice solutions' probably has to do with catering ...

Not that they shouldn't be shot.

Date: 2009-02-09 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] childeric.livejournal.com
Wow, ethnorelative ways of knowing, eh? Mind you, where you lot go, we very often follow, so perhaps I shouldn't scoff yet...

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From: [identity profile] a-d-medievalist.livejournal.com - Date: 2009-02-09 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2009-02-09 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drreagan.livejournal.com
"The poor old English language has suffered some horrible indignities in its time"


Isn't it just you academics that still use Old English these days? The rest of us have moved on through Middle, Modern and now whatever you call that thing we have now that ends in "innit"

Date: 2009-02-10 12:26 pm (UTC)
owlfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlfish
Based on Google hits, food service has become foodservice has become a standard industry thought unit, for use in a wide variety of brands.

Even Twinings does it: http://www.twiningsfs.co.uk/

Date: 2009-02-10 12:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] childeric.livejournal.com
O tempora, o mores!

Date: 2009-02-10 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trizia.livejournal.com
I wish to offer my services as a member of your proposed English Language Preservation Force.

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