May I have a word… about marketing speak | Jonathan Bouquet

Partnerings and outcries stalk the land. Be afraid, be very afraid…

I’m not sure quite who to blame, but I suspect the culprit is some overpaid, underpowered “high-flyer” in marketing land, but someone must be responsible for the recent outbreak of monstrous couplings afflicting the media.

Take the following: “BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce are partnering with the Ministry of Defence to create ‘Team Tempest’ to deliver the project.” Fear not, it gets worse: “STT data centres partnering with SGIX to partner connectivity”; “Netflix partnering with SiriusXM”; “Tampa police partnering with Ring to fight crime”. What on earth is wrong with “working with”? As for partnering connectivity, does this mean talking to one another? An old-fashioned concept, I realise, in this online age, but it always used to work. Give it a try, it’s an exciting, old-fashioned idea.

Talking of the online world, I was much taken by a headline last week: “Outcry after Dawkins criticises Muslim call to prayer.” Outcry is a word only ever used in newspaper headlines. It turns out that this “outcry” led to online criticism, presumably one of those Twitter storms that we are always supposed to be exercised by.

In an increasingly busy world, it’s a fairly straightforward time-saving course that if a newspaper story is predicated on such outbreaks of social media frenzy, it almost always means that you can move swiftly on to something more interesting and edifying.

Finally, thanks to Patrick Mills of Cambridge, who has gently taken me to task for my column last week over the use of the word “family”. He writes: “As late as the 1960s it was possible to find ‘pork butchers’ and ‘family butchers’, who sold different kinds of meat.” Thank you, I happily stand corrected.

• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist

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Jonathan Bouquet

The GuardianTramp

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