Industry: Rise in buzzwords criticised by lecturers' union

Lecturers have hit out at the rise in "marketing speak" - and the growing number of Government publications and public relations releases littered with unintelligible buzzwords and newly-coined phrases.

Random use of the word "tool" in a distinctly non-DIY way, "solutions", often preceded by the word "bespoke", and "targeted deliveries",

usually involving technology or intelligence, in a virtual or even non-virtual world, sometimes platform-based, has been increasing all year.

News organisations have been swamped in recent months with announcements of "invisible background optimisation" of computer software by eliminating virtual disk "bloat"; development of a voltage optimisation product to be attached to the consumer unit (fuse box); while the use of "evidential recording systems" appears to be taking off.

Helpful government communications can also be distinctly unhelpful, as shown by this "simple example" of student funding repayment calculations from a Whitehall department: "Interest of RPI (=2.75%) + 2.2% is added to produce loan balance at the SRDD: Balance at SRDD = 10,000 x 1.0495 (3) + 10,000 x 1.0495 (2) + 10,000 x 1.0495 = 33,069."

Timing is another problematic area for some public relations agencies, with one declaring in October that a trade show was "only 86 days, 20 hours, 31 minutes and 34 seconds away."

Providers have been described as "focused", "suites" of new marketing solutions have been launched, and blue sky thinking is rapidly being replaced by Clouds, often interfacing between solutions and concepts.

Another Whitehall department announced that a more "locally-led plural system of procurement" should operate, taking a "modular approach" so that IT services would embody the "core assumption of connect all, rather than replace all systems."

A spokesman for the University and College Union said: "It is well-documented that recruitment agencies and employers reject numerous job applications because they believe basic errors in English in their CVs and covering letters show ignorance, carelessness and a bad attitude.

"We do not accept that the growth of text messaging or instant emails excuses making mistakes. Even more grating is the increase in marketing speak, littered with buzzwords and ludicrous neologisms."

Marie Clair, spokeswoman for the Plain English Campaign, said: "It is no surprise that government documents form the majority of nominations for our annual Golden Bull awards. One of this year's winners was Boris Johnson's 'cyclised city of pioneers', used to describe the London cycle hire scheme. This is despite receiving assurance from MPs that plain English is the best approach for all public information.

"Albert Einstein once said: If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Information filled with jargon only serves to shut people out. It may sound clever to the writer, but it's pure gobbledygook to the reader."