Proto-Microspeak: Efforting


I have only two citations, so it may not be proper Microspeak.

We're efforting that for you.

They're not just trying, they're efforting.

Solution efforting seems to fall in a gap between teams so there's no clear owner or resourcing focused on it.

Bonus jargon: resourcing. Actually, that one sentence came from a longer document packed with management-speak. Here's another beauty from that longer document: "A lot of effort goes into availing efficient systems to streamline incident handle time." Of course, what the person really meant to write was "A lot of efforting..."

It appears that the term has been heard around the NPR offices as well.

My local social circle has started using the term mockingly. "The Foo object efforts the destruction of the Bar object."

Comments (19)
  1. porter says:

    Perhaps efforting was more important than effecting? One day, the terms noun and verb will be redundant.

  2. Boo says:

    Armegeddon (the movie) used this term when Billy Bob Thornton was speaking to P.O.T.U.S. he said, "We’re efforting that as we speak"…

  3. Ben Voigt says:

    <badpun>

    Well, if your writing was effortless, your supervisor might think you weren’t earning your keep.

    </badpun>

  4. Angus says:

    Humans love to use language as a way to sub-group themselves, create secret coalitions, in some sense alienate and feel special. Teens do it all the time. Scientists love to do it, and then when one of them writes a book for the layman, s/he is panned as putting a toe into the low-brow waters. As with programming, a low percentage of people were born to manage, have innate skills, and don’t worry about jargon. The rest have to find some way to distinguish themselves. However, I think of the word meandering, which is what I’ve been doing for the past minute in this post, and wonder if anyone complained when it was verbed?

  5. jeremy says:

    Uhh, you do realize scientists actually NEED that language, right?  How far do you think we’d be if biologists wrote titled "about reading the letters in that twisty thing"?  Or CS?  "Let’s use that thing that does this stuff when you give it other stuff to solve this problem!"

  6. Josh says:

    "Of course, what the person really meant to write was ‘A lot of efforting…’"

    Having been at a previous Microsoft-influenced company, I think that "efforting" more means "to determine the effort of" versus the effort itself. So the act of efforting itself requires effort :)

    So I think the person did mean to say "A lot of effort"…

  7. Trevel says:

    I still remember the day my manager first called me a resource. To my face. It was an odd moment.

  8. Robert Morris says:

    @porter: even with Microspeak, the terms "noun" and "verb" will not be redundant. What you learned in school about nouns and verbs (as person/places/things versus actions/states of being) is, essentially, wrong, and you can think of many cases where this line is blurred (e.g., the noun "destruction", and many others).

    A better definition is simply that nouns and verbs are categories our mind uses, almost certainly intuitively, to classify words by certain properties, such as where they can appear in a phrase structure, what kinds of morphology (affixation, like -s, un-, or -ing, for example) it can take, and the like.

    What makes some words interesting, like the verb "effort," is that they are so-called zero-derivations, meaning no derivational affixes (e.g., suffixes that change nouns into verbs like -ize) are used. Still, to satisfy English grammar, they will use inflectional affixes (non-category-chaning affixes that are used because the grammar requires them, such as -ed on a past tense verb or -s on a third-person singular present indicative verb). This is how we know it’s a verb: besides from fitting into phrase structure in a way that only verbs can, it takes inflectional affixes (like -ed) that only verbs can take. For nouns zero-derived from verbs, you will find something similar.

    Basically, there is no danger here–only really fun data for linguists. :)

  9. unekdoud says:

    InitiateNewLanguageManager()

    Error: verb is a verb and noun is a verb.

    For this situation, "Some Efforts Too Much"

  10. Mark says:

    Angus: while that may be true, there really is no problem using nouns in a verbal context like this: check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_%28linguistics%29. English has mostly stripped itself of features that distinguish parts of speech. The convention of adding -ize, -ify or -ate is just a habit copied from Greek and Latin words and used as a syntactic marker.

    What would take this from "proto-Microspeak" is the sense drifting after its adoption: "no, we’re not making an effort, we’re efforting".

  11. doug says:

    Look out for effort/catch blocks in the next programming language from Redmond.

  12. Joseph Bongaarts says:

    "…Let’s use that thing that does this stuff when you give it other stuff to solve this problem!"

    The problem is that Raymond’s Microspeak examples are /not/ more precise or descriptive jargon, they just sounds that way. It detracts from the communication rather than enhancing it. Er, makes it worse, not better? Or something…

  13. k says:

    Using the word mockingly just propagates it further. People who haven’t heard it before and who hear you using it may not realize you’re using it mockingly, and pick it. The word ‘synergy’ falls into the same category – initially me and my (geek) friends used it to mock marketing/sales people but now it’s become normal-speak.

    I don’t know whether you care if that happens to these micro-speaks but it’s something to keep in mind :)

  14. TDL says:

    @Trevel

    I remember the day our CEO brought someone back to the developer area and loudly proclaimed that "this is where the overhead sits"

  15. manyirons says:

    @TDL

    I hope you didn’t take that sitting down.

  16. Brian Marshall says:

    When I hear this sentence in a meeting, I will leave Microsoft:

    I’m super-excited about efforting on your asks.

  17. James Schend says:

    TDL: Maybe there was an overhead projector sitting there or… no you’re right, that’s terrible. I recently learned that a manager with our group was calling some employees "tag monkeys". Which, while it’s sadly a pretty accurate description of what they do all day, is enragingly disrespectful.

  18. Karellen says:

    "Scientists love to [use language as a way to sub-group themselves, create secret coalitions, in some sense alienate and feel special], and then when one of them writes a book for the layman, s/he is panned as putting a toe into the low-brow waters."

    Uh, most scientists in hard sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, paleontology) that I’m aware of try as hard as possible to be as clear and succinct as possible at all times.

    Yes, there is a certain amount of technical vocabulary in any given field that you need to learn, but that does generally make things *easier* to understand. If you don’t actually name different subatomic particles, different types of molecule, taxonomic groups or geological eras, how exactly do you plan to make distinctions between them when you need to? If you don’t name processes, but always refer to "nuclear fusion" as "forcing ionised atomic nuclei together against their electrostatic repulsion until the short-range strong nuclear force binds them together" then that would be a lot less clear, prone to error and exclusionary.

    Scientists don’t create language to exclude. They do it to make *detailed, precise* communication *easier* and *more inclusive*.

    Popular science writing generally requires using some *less precise* language than research papers. There is a trick to doing this while still not being *imprecise*, accidentally misleading, or less clear than the "proper" language would be.

    Occasionally, popular science will be accused of being "too dumbed-down", but that is often when the author has not mastered the art as just described, and, for example, used some really inappropriate or plain wrong analogies in their attempt to simplify.

    OTOH, I have heard that as your science gets more and more soft, making language deliberately impenetrable or unclear is a goal. Some authors have taken it as a compliment when a reader has complained that they struggled to understand a given passage. (cannot find citation) However, the further down that path you go, the more likely your are to get Sokaled.

  19. Pavel Kostromitinov says:

    > My local social circle has started using the term mockingly

    Well, there’s a danger of mocking use becoming a normal one, gotcha, we’ve just introduced Microspeak into English again.

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