I Love Lucy

No, this isn’t some throwback to the 1950s US TV show. It’s a homage to Lucy Kellaway, who for almost 25 years has been stripping away the bullshit from the English language as it is mangled, abused, and left for dead by the business world. She’s soon giving up her weekly column in the Financial Times, to take up teaching maths in a school. The newspaper will be a much diminished read without her.

In her latest column Lucy tackles the very things that make us despair here at Orwell. She is relentless in spotting the bullshit from big executives and attacking it. Nonsensical stuff such as ‘110% committed’ or, in her column today, Howard Schultz of Starbucks saying the new roasters of the company are delivering a “coffee-forward experience.” That’s almost hilariously meaningless.

But what Lucy doesn’t point out is that many of the top bosses who spout such ludicrousness no doubt have acres of communications and media advisers, some of whom no doubt scrutinise the language used by them. How does it get past the PR teams, the media coaches, the communications’ ‘experts’? Don’t they care? Are they too weak to challenge language misuse? Are they simply so bad at using the English language that they don’t realise that their boss is looking like a top chump?

Says Lucy: “The business world is divided into two kinds of people. There are those who talk tosh (the majority) and those who do not.” It’s very unlikely that Howard Schultz is a moron. He just needs a bit of help from his advisers, who would tell him to rein-in his rush to talk up Starbucks and pause a little. It’s already a huge company; he doesn’t need to try for the super-hyperbolic to jolly-up staff and reassure customers.

If you don’t want to be laughed at or mocked for talking tosh, talk to us. We will put you on the straight and narrow and help you to bring out your innate good sense.