Archive for February 16th, 2011

February 16, 2011


Business English is full of buzzwords – that is probably true for most languages and not only for business but also all sorts of communications from the government, legal speak, etc.

I think back in horror to some of the stuff I had to put up with back in Germany, that particular, formal style that uses mainly nouns and is characterized by words like Inbetriebnahmeinteraktionsfolgenrelevant or Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (no kidding, that word exists – sort of – in the files of some bureaucrats and I still haven’t quite understood what it means …)

This mission statement makes sense, pic

Anyway, back to English: buzzwords abound in corporate communication, favorite ones are flexible, innovative (if I had 1 Dollar for every time I read innovative I would have long retired on some chichi Caribbean island), optimize, platform, integration, results-oriented, capabilities, efficiency, track-record, align, dedicated, opportunities, shareholder value, productivity, increase,….

Here is what one – with only a little bit of hyperbole – could call a typical mission statement:

“Our company allows businesses to integrate, assemble and optimize available IT assets to drive business process productivity, delivering an innovative, enterprise-class business integration platform that incorporates proven integration technology with next generation capabilities into one interoperable set of tools that deliver a unique combination of efficiency, agility and control, combining industry leadership with a zealous commitment to customers to deliver tangible business value. ”


February 16, 2011


I first encountered the word acme in Far Side cartoons where it invariably showed up as the brand name of a wide variety of fictional products and some especially inept enterprises.  So somehow I always believed acme was used for just – fictional brandnames.

An Acme Corp product at it's finest, pic:

And that is partially true, as acme – derived from the Greek acmē – made its appearances in the English language in the 1920 as the name of fictional products and companies in cartoons such as Road Runner.  Products supplied by Acme Corporation had a tendency to fail catastrophically at the worst possible time.

In real life acme means:  the highest level or degree attainable or the highest stage of development.  As such it makes sense to choose this as a brand name for your bakery or plumbing business.

Although one can think up example sentences using the word such as “His fame was at its acme” or “The acme of their soccer season was when they beat team xyz 3 :1″   nobody – in all my years in the US  – has actually ever ued that word in a complete sentence.