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Business Slang: Incentivize

Business Slang: Incentivize

by Frank Roche on January 21, 2008

in Business Slang

Business SlangUnfortunate coinages are turning up like bad pennies. And we seem to be making up words at an alarming rate.

“In the same way that people in social groups tend to wear similar clothes, people create slang and new words to show that they’re all part of the same group, ” says Grammar Girl. It’s about group identity.

Can You Incentivize Someone?
My introduction to business slang was in MBA school. My classmates started saying “incentivize” to mean “motivate.” They thought it sounded cool. I had a real aversion to the made-up word. Much to my dismay, incentivize seems to have made it into popular use. I find motivate to be infinitely cleaner. In fact, I’m committed to never using incentivize in any written piece again.

Is It Wrong to Verbify?
Is it wrong to create a verb from a noun, adjective, or other word? Is it wrong to verbify? Grammar Girl says she doesn’t object to verbifications (more slang) when they’re smoother to write and they allow for cleaner sentences. In fact, I just penciled in my edits.

Is Verbification an Internet Phenomenon?
I’m not exactly blaming the Internet for another social ill. I’m just noting that there’s a rapid explosion of business slang that is related to Internet products. You know you hit it big when the name of your product becomes the generic verb for doing something. Right Google? Googling, twittering, digging – I’m even used to slashdotting. They all sound fine to me. I’m not so wild about facebooking – maybe verbification is something to think about when naming your next start-up.

Now I’m going to get back to KnowHRing.

About Business Slang
Business Slang is a new weekly feature on KnowHR. We’ll run it every Monday.

In Business Slang, we’ll help you keep up with the latest slang to make the rounds in corporate meetings rooms. You have your favorites, too. Please send your HR and business slang suggestions to slang [AT] knowhr [DOT] com – we’ll feature some in an upcoming articles.

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