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How to Spot Corporate Doublespeak

January 2, 2014, 12:00 AM
Shutta

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, he explored the sinister problem in language we refer to as doublespeak. Totalitarian regimes don't use transparent language. The fictional Oceanian province, which is in a state of perpetual war, uses language as a weapon, distorting meaning in order to make the historical record conform to the Ingsoc party line. 

The investor-relations specialist Laura Rittenhouse is a 21st century Orwell, who scours shareholder letters for "cliches, weasel words, jargon, hyperbole, nonsensical statements, and overused words." These garner point deductions in her Rittenhouse Rankings, a survey that grades 100 big companies based on seemingly unquantifiable metrics relating to corporate culture and candor. 

What would Orwell think of the types of government and corporate communications we see today? 

In a lesson on Big Think Edge, the only forum on YouTube designed to help you get the skills you need to be successful in a rapidly changing world, Rittenhouse explains the ways that language is used to obscure transparency in communications and what this says about a company's integrity. 

Sign up for a free trial subscription on Big Think Edge and watch Rittenhouse's lesson here:

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More from the Big Idea for Thursday, January 02 2014

Doublespeak

If a company has good earnings to report or a government agency has positive results to report, there is no need for obfuscation. Doublespeak, or language that disguises meaning, is employed to de... Read More…

 

How to Spot Corporate Doubl...

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