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Fake Jane's "English Only" Initiative

Tuesday, 4 Dec 2007 | 10:28 AM ET
Fake Jane
CNBC.com photo composite
Fake Jane

For the sake of Corporate America, Fake Jane is tackling a political hot potato--Americans should speak English only! Now, some of you may think this means Fake Jane (FJ) is against people speaking Spanish or Chinese or whatever. No, mi amigo. That's another blog for another day.

FJ is pushing for English only in corporate emails! We should forever ban incomprehensible phrases from consultants and Human Resource types, phrases like "breaking down silos," and "Bill's client support role is being backfilled by Joe," which sounds nasty. I don't even know what "breaking down silos" means. Speak English!

Outlawed should be the practice of turning three-word sentences into 20-word streams of nonsense (unless you get paid by the word). "We are in-process determining the most optimal way to right-size your department to best meet the goals of efficiency," is a gobbledy-gook way of saying "We may have to let some people go." So say it.

Why is it that corporate improvement programs like "Six Sigma," which are supposed to make things better and clearer, instead encourage a style of memo-writing that looks like it was spewed out of the same translation software used to print my Japanese Sony laptop manual in English?

Why are we even calling something "Six Sigma" (what does that even mean?) and handing out colored belts as awards? Why don't we just call it the "Make Business Better" program and tell employees, "Come up with something that improves the bottom line and we'll give you money."

Maybe that should be my Six Sigma project. I could get a black belt "streamlining the communications interface through more efficient word choices."

Please send me your most outrageous examples of corporate emails. I promise to change the names and companies so you don't get fired. Better yet, change them yourselves before you hit "send." Doing so will "avoid breaking down silos inefficiently and optimize your forward-looking employment opportunities." Funnybusiness@cnbc.com.

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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