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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

CHANGE IN ACC NEWSPEAK

Waihekeans will no doubt dance in the streets upon learning that Auckland City Council is 'moving away' from using the word 'strategy' all the time. It has decided instead to use 'framework' or 'plan' in many places. Exactly what will determine which word is used is not clear. But don't worry. I expect they will work out a strategy, or a framework, or a plan to decide on that.

The silver lining in the drifting fog of officer-speak is that 'strategy', when used by ACC, was usually used wrongly anyway. 'Plan' is what they meant, or 'project,' or 'programme,' or 'method', or even something really simple like 'way.' 'Strategy' is a military term. It is what you do to manipulate the enemy into doing what you want, or being where you want, so that you gain the upper hand.

Of course the verbiage spewing out under whatever word they choose will still have the same sub-text, the age-old bureaucrats' motto: 'We're all going to live a thousand years, so tomorrow will do.' Therefore take forever, but dress it up with impressive-sounding guff and we will look very important and progressive (we think).

The Romans had a wise saying: 'When men cannot change things they change words.'

Doing something is unnecessary. Just change the language.

Another example of ACC's warping of English that has just come to light, and which you must get your head round, especially if you ask for one of its grants via the Community Board, is how to interpret its response. If your application is declined, the officers will record it in the minutes as 'received,' because they are afraid that you might be hurt if they say 'declined.' Only if it is accepted will they say use Plain English and say so.

But you have to remember that in officer-speak 'received' also means got it and did nothing but shove it on the shelf. So sometimes it means shelved and sometimes it means declined. Now you know. Certainty is such a wonderful thing.

Let the dancing begin.