Jargon is everywhere. A couple of years ago The Wall Street Journal published a 1,500-word piece on the use of “bucket” and to this day I swear I have no idea as to what the word’s usefulness is. As an undergraduate, I was taught linguistics by non-prescriptivist lexicographers, so I don’t actually believe that there is any wrong or right in language use, only degrees of adequacy to certain situations. I confess, though, that my last remnants of prescriptivism are aggravated not by teenage language or texting or all of those things that scandalize purists, but rather business jargon. Perhaps because jargon is Moriarty to the perplexed bilingual Watsons who wish they were accompanied by a jargon-busting Holmes in their daily labor.
Well, the solution to some of this perplexity has arrived courtesy of a new website called Unsuck It. It allows you to type in the “crapeme” of your choice and inquire as to its meaning. An equivalent in plain English is automatically produced. When you have a little business phrase that is giving you trouble, you type it in. You then get two choices, a la Google: “Unsuck It” and “I’m Feeling Douchey.” The logo says it all: it features a little man with his pants pulled down who is making a photocopy of his butt. If you introduce a query such as “bucketize”, you get a neat little definition (“Categorize”) and an instance of how to use the word (“We can’t boil the ocean, so let’s start by bucketizing the deliverables and picking the low-hanging fruit”).
Then you have the option of either tweeting the meaning of your new-found word or (I love this) you can “send an email to the douchebag who used it.” When you click this option, the page activates your email program and a message pops up with the subject line: “Hey, douchebag! Stop torturing the English language!” while the message contains the offending word and a plain language equivalent.
All in all, a must-have in the terminological arsenal of the modern translator.
So the question is: “Are you feeling douchey, punk?” And if you are, try to unsuck it before your colleagues do it for you.
Miguel Llorens is a freelance financial translator based in Madrid who works from Spanish into English. He is specialized in equity research, economics, accounting, and investment strategy. He has worked as a translator for Goldman Sachs, the US Government's Open Source Center and H.B.O. International, as well as many small-and-medium-sized brokerages and asset management companies operating in Spain. To contact him, visit his website and write to the address listed there. Feel free to join his LinkedIn network or to follow him on Twitter.