Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Neologisms in Business - an Indication of our Incessantly Developing Economy (PART 1)

The need for new terms should not be underestimated. New words continuously enter lexicon to describe new concepts. Conversely, obsolete words fall out of use as they lose their significance.
There is an intricate relationship between language and economy. Both phenomena undergo incessant changes over time and while language acts as a marker of business development, reflecting back the industry as it changes, vocabulary appears as a primary indicator of this transformation. Arguably, the language itself accounts for the great progress of scientific, technological and social change as a result of the instantaneous transmission together with the rapid translation of the words.The demand for innovation in the fields of
techniques, products, skills and trends requires the creation of new words to denote latest occurrences in the world of business.
Economy, as every other industry, has its particular language. Specific terminology  which determines the business world is called  jargon or buzzwords. The source of both is difficult to define as they function mainly in the spoken language and are recognizable only for members of a particular industry. The truth, however, is that jargon originates in the utterances of companies' consultants and top managers, who can talk offline about the total quality.
Neologisms created in such a way are copied by employees, who feel obliged to know and use buzzwords, even if the meaning is not clear to the speakers. What is more, jargon is a hindrance when reaching the clients, so companies are trying to use everyday language in lieu of buzzwords. The majority of new words
do not belong to the proper language but to the colloquial one, these neologisms are not registered in dictionaries and they may be instantly disposed of when new ones appear.
 Among multitudinous instances of such words is philantropreneur - a blend which combines the old -fashioned 'philanthropist' with 'entrepreneur' and de facto is an amalgamate of both meanings, namely “young billionaire who has reaped the benefits of capitalism and believes that it can be applied in the service of charity” (New York Times, 13 Nov. 2006). Due to the new attitude towards charity one may claim that philantropreneurs will gradually eradicate philanthropists and the latter word will simply become an anachronism. The above mentioned examples prove that neologisms may describe already existing concepts, yet the dominant tendency in the developing world of business is that new words stand for completely new phenomena.
   Frequently, buzzwords are mistakenly considered empty and useless, though despite of their drawbacks, these words denote latest occurrences and trends in business. Take as an example the word blamestorming or cyberslacking which are considerably new phenomena; the former stands for a "discussion (which may be at the group, community, or society level) in which members attempt to assign blame for a particular misdeed" ( while the latter means: "using a company’s Internet connection during working hours for activities which are not work-related, such as shopping, playing games and sending personal e-mails" (
And even if new buzzwords such as McLibel or McJob may not survive to the next decade, their appearance at this moment signifies that both neologisms are needed. Moreover, as both McLibel and McJob refer to the McDonald corporation (the first one stands for a British court action for libel filed by the
McDonald’s corporation against environmental activists, while the second for a low paid job without any prospects of promotion) they are a marker of customers attitudes towards the company and (in this case) of its notoriety. New buzzwords should not be underestimated owing to their impermanent nature, since this feature pinpoints human preferences and trends, transience of which is undeniable.
 (to be continued...)


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