What's a Buzzword?
Good question. A buzzword is a word that has become so fashionable and over-used, it's almost a slogan. Often such words begin as pop-psychology jargon in the corporate, media or academic world and then spread out to become more widely used.
A buzzword can come across as pretentious, as the word may be an attempt to make something seem more important than it is. When someone says they felt "empowered", what do they really mean? They felt stronger, better, more able to cope? "Empowered" implies they've been injected with a superhuman tonic, which of course they haven't so it's really just a feel-good word designed to motivate people for political, social or personal reasons.
Buzzwords aren't necessarily a bad thing but they do tend to be overused, sometimes to the point where they become meaningless and just glide over the listener, elliciting no emotional response. Often they're very effective as a motivational tool and can stir people to action, such as the call for "the empowernent of women", though that term is now so tired few would be excited by it. They can also be suffocating and even a form of compulsion, especially in a corporate or academic environment, when it becomes a requirement to speak in buzzwords.
Do Buzzwords Deaden the Language?
Buzzwords may be commandeered for propaganda purposes too, and in this case can be dangerous tools of persuasion that allow for no dissent. A popular buzzword term over the the decades has been the expression '"war on drugs", which some people might think is okay except it allows for no discussion or alternative approaches. Using language in this way is similar to George Orwell'snewspeak. Orwell believed buzzwords were used as a kind of convenience; It's so much easier to just copy invented words and phrases than it is to come up with your own. Yet in the end, the buzzword becomes deadened and dull - no-one really listens.
George Orwell's Newspeak
Ingsoc-newspeak for the totalitarian ideology of Oceania
Orwell's concept of newspeak was of a State controlled language that was parred down and simplified, so that shades of dangerous nuance could be removed. In the novel 1984, newspeak was the official language of Oceania, although it was not yet widespread and woudn't have taken over until 2050, by which time it would have completely superceded oldspeak (normal language).
The idea was that once newspeak had taken over, a subersive idea would literally be unthinkable, as there would be no word to express it. The new language of newspeak was divided into three classes of grammar- A vocabulary, B Vocabularyand C vocabulary. A vocabulary was for everday words to express ordinary things such as eating, drinking, sleeping etc. They had very exact meanings and are stripped of any secondary nuance. B Vocabulary were compound words, made up of two words or parts of words joined together in an easy form. The object of the B vocabulary was to encourage a particular political mindset through simplified but forceful language. The C vocabulary were supplemental and contained expedient but unmistakable technical and scientific words and terms used by specialty workers. They had only a singular meaning and no other and were not used in everyday or political speak,
Some Examples of Buzz Words
Best Practices-The best possible method or way of doing a job
Core Competencies-Abilities and capabilities unique to a particular company or individual
Critical path-Everything in sequence that must be completed on schedule before tn entire project is complete
Enabler-One who helps someone take a particular course of action
Empowerment-Feeling a sense of strength and power
Functionality-Function or feature
Meme-An aspect of culture that is passed from one individual to another non-genetically
Monetize-turn something into a money-making proposition, commercialise it
Incentivization-A combination of incentive and motivation
Thinimizatation-Keeping it thin, paring things down, minimizing the fat.
Paradigm-A worldview or ana archtypal example or model of something
Paradigm Shift-A changing worldview, eg; a changing cultural model
Sea Change-A change of direction, following a new path
Synergy-Working together, a joint effort
Value Added-An enhancement offered to a product or service by a company before it's offered to a customer