Wednesday, May 01, 2013

It's Just a Sign of the Times, Going Forward in Reverse

Steven Poole:

1 Going forward

Top of many people's hate list is this now-venerable way of saying "from now on" or "in future". It has the rhetorical virtue of wiping clean the slate of the past (perhaps because "mistakes were made"), and implying a kind of thrustingly strategic progress, even though none is likely to be made as long as the working day is made up of funereal meetings where people say things like "going forward".

Despite my recent fatwa, I generally accept that language is plastic, ad-hoc and ever-evolving, and so refrain from getting too exercised over deviations from some supposed True Standard of writing or speech. And even when doing copywriting, where word count is king and content is an afterthought, I can have a sense of wry humor about the accepted presence of so much excess, empty verbiage. But Broca's area has its reasons of which reason knows nothing, and holy mother of fuck, the constant use of this particular phrase makes me want to punch the speaker repeatedly in the larynx until they can only ever utter a rasping squawk for the rest of their days, or fantasize about a hidden mousetrap mechanism in their keyboards being triggered and crushing their fingers.