Certitude

Managerial speak is an annoyance. It encourages language to take up space without communicating anything. Don Watson’s Death Sentences makes a clear case about how this kind of writing, the weasel words, and the managerial language, destroys communication and doesn’t serve the public interest.

So it’s timely that I finished this book last night given what’s happened with representative Anthony Weiner. I don’t know everything about what’s happened. I guess a lewd photo was posted to his Twitter account. He denies that he posted it, claiming that he got hacked. That may be true. He seems like a smart guy who understands technology, even doing a AMA for reddit. Surely he would understand the ramifications and backlash.

His denial isn’t doing him any favors because he used the word “certitude.” From the LA Times:

In an interview Wednesday, Rep. Anthony Weiner said he could not say “with certitude” that a photo of man’s crotch posted to Twitter — a picture that has become the center of a small-scale media storm — was not, in fact, a photo of him.

Certitude?

Why does the word exist? How does it differ from “certainty?”

Certitude is one of those words that, when spoken and read, flips a switch in the brain. It’s a switch that makes people go, “Hmm – this might be bullshit.”

Why? Because no one ever says it in real life. Because of the same reasons that Watson discusses in Death Sentences.

Managerial speak is, at best, lazy. At its worst it’s a lie disguised in a suit and tie, and gives a strong handshake.