Latest posts by techwriter (see all)
- BOOK REVIEW: “Design for How People Learn” by Julie Dirksen - July 10, 2017
- 12 Top Characteristics of a Good Technical Writer - July 3, 2017
- What Are the Qualities of a Good Technical Writer? - June 28, 2017
Perhaps it’s still too early for the nominations but I hereby nominate the following monstrosity for the Gobbledygook Word of The Year:
“Specificity”, and even worse, “Specificities”, in its plural form.
Try saying it three times in a row and you’ll instantly forget what time it is or where you are.
Examples from world press:
“Angola: SADC Secretary Acknowledges Country’s Specificities” (Angola Press Agency)
“This White Paper … enhances the visibility of sport in EU policy-making, raises awareness of the needs and specificities of the sport sector, and identifies appropriate further action at EU level.” (Ján Figel, European Commissioner in charge of Education, Training, Culture & Youth, including Sport)
The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Action Plans, which were signed in November 2006, take into account the specificities of the South Caucasus countries.” (Ambassador Per Eklund, Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Georgia and Armenia)
“Specificity” has two main definitions. Its medical definition means something.
But its non-medical definition is a true abomination. It describes anything but a state of being “specific.” It’s just a vacuous place holder for an idea not quite formed in an ill-informed mind.
MEDICAL definition: “The ability of a test to detect that a condition is not present when it is, in fact, not present. The proportion of people free of a disease who have a negative test.”
NON-MEDICAL definition: “The quality of being specific rather than general; “add a desirable note of specificity to the discussion”; “the specificity of the symptoms of the disease.””
To refer to a group of items that are not clearly defined as “specificities” is as ridiculous an act as calling a group of dead people “existentiaries”.
There should be an article in the penal code against using such words of obfuscation that pollute public communication channels and thus undermine common good, peace and harmony.