I think most of you will agree with the Local Government Association that the English language can do without "best practice", "core value", "dialogue" (as a verb), "outcomes", "synergies" and 200 other jargon words they have asked councils not to use.
This style of language is usually called business-speak or management-speak, and it began with the 1980s managerial revolution, when management consultants went from firm to firm, spreading buzzwords that middle managers, fearful of looking out of touch, parroted.
But, despite starting in the private sector, it is in the public sector that it has really thrived. John Birt spread his own dialect, Birt-speak, around the BBC, and New Labour infested national government with management jargon, in which David Miliband is virtually monolingual.
Today, council statements and newsletters are often translated into Albanian or Kurdish dialect, but they rarely appear in regular English.
Why do they speak this way? Jargon makes it easier to disguise one's actions with euphemisms for inaction, bureaucracy or waste. Many management consultants were bluffing their way through their jobs because they were unsure what their jobs were, and the same applies to local councils and the increasing number of non-jobs they create.
Such is the increase in the social services industry that one only has to look at the Guardian's Wednesday Society section to see that management-speak is now the UK's most subsidised minority language.
Take today's job advert for "Transforming Adult Social Care, Programme Director" for Thurrock Council:
This new role will support delivery of genuine transformation of Adult Social Care in the East of England and also Local Authorities to develop innovative approaches tailored to local circumstances within the broad context of Putting People First. You will need to have a strategic overview about the future of social care and health in the context of Comprehensive Area Assessment - focussing on improving the outcomes of people. You will work closely with a broad range of stakeholders, senior Social Care and Health colleagues, elected Members, service users, carers, and other partners. The role is accountable to the Joint Improvement Partnership and links to ADASS and DH in the region and nationally.
What does any of this mean? Why are so many letters capitalised? Was it translated from the German? The job pays up to £88,000, so I think it is reasonable for taxpayers to be told what it entails.
How about Violent Crime Prevention Manager for Hackney council (£42,000)?
This important and high profile role will require coordinating partnership work to reduce violent crime, including violent extremism. Innovative in your approach, you will lead on the implementation of violent crime strategies and local action plans, ensuring key partners' involvement and commitment, while directly managing up to four officers and taking charge of a significant budget.
Your proven track record in the community safety field will be complemented by in-depth knowledge of national legislation, strategies and guidelines in the areas of violent crime and preventing violent extremism. Skilled in developing strategies, analysing data and managing performance, you will have the ability to develop creative service solutions. A degree or equivalent experience will be essential.
Call me radical, but aren't policemen paid £22,104 a year (their starting salary in London) to be "violent crime prevention managers"?
Funnily enough, the one word that LGA missed out was "diversity", the most common buzzword in local government. Almost every job advert has a little diversity ditty at the end.
Hackney council - "Encouraging diversity and promoting talent."
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre - "Driving Diversity Forward."
But that's nothing compared to the mental health charity Rethink "Rethink is passionate about creating a diverse workforce and positively encourages applications from under-represented communities."
Thurrock Council - "We serve a diverse community where people are different but equal. Diversity underpins everything we do." What, everything? Going to the toilet? Making love to the wife?
Luton council - "We value equality because quality services need the best people - from the whole community." That's pretty much a contradiction. Quality depends on hiring the best people, which is a recognition of inequality.
Futurebuilders (a charity) - "Futurebuilders strives to be an equal opportunity employer. [I like the more modest "strives". I strive to be sober but I have to be realistic.] "We particularly welcome applications from ethnic minority groups and from people with disabilities."
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman - "We are committed to equality of opportunity and welcome applicants from all sections of the community. We guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the post."
And, most ambigous of all:
Department for Innovation, Universites and Skills - "We particularly welcome applications from people with disabilities, ethnically diverse people and women. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills is committed to making appointments on merit by fair and open process, taking account of equality and diversity." Taking account? Either they chose the best person or they don't.
Hmm. I wonder how any of these local government officials would feel if they got on a plane, knowing that the pilot and flight safety technician had been chosen to "reflect the community" or "take account of equality and diversity". A good thing the Government no longer runs an airline.
The Telegraph online, 18th March 2009