Apparently, the Local Government Association has told British bureaucrats in local and town governments to stop using 100 “non-words.” (CNN) From the story:
The list includes the popular but vague term “empowerment;” “coterminosity,” a situation in which two organizations oversee the same geographical area; and “synergies,” combinations in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Officials were told to ditch the term “revenue stream” for income, as well as the imprecise “sustainable communities.” The association also said councils should stop referring to local residents as “customers” or “stakeholders.” The association’s chairman, Simon Milton, said officials should not “hide behind impenetrable jargon and phrases.” “Why do we have to have ‘coterminous, stakeholder engagement’ when we could just ‘talk to people’ instead?” he said.
Legal academics are certainly not immune to anything ranging from the use of non-words to scholarly cliches and “ostentatious erudition.” There is even academic buzzword bingo. Any good examples of words that should make the list of top 100 words never to be seen again in law reviews? Because I just read an article that used the word “modalities” 51 times in about as many pages, I’ll start there.
Worse than “incentivize” is its appalling short form, “incent.” It hurts to type that, even by way of reporting the atrocity.
I also nominate “empirics.” If you mean empirical data, empirical analysis, or empiricism, then say so. These are distinct concepts, and the shortcut so many law professors use actually has a different meaning. “Empiric” = “medical quack.”
I’ve written more on this topic at http://jurisdynamics.blogspot.com/2006/10/getting-catty-about-legal-language.html.
Incentivize. Whatever happened to “motivate”?