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10 Jun

Today I attended my fourth morning meeting.  During these gatherings, the managers of all departments meet in a conference room and get each other up to speed on what’s happening in the company.  If you’ve ever sat in on an English-speaking conversation and felt mystified, you know how I feel.  Acronyms rule the conversation: DTIs (Direct-Tension Indicators), ASFI (Army Single Face Industry), part numbers like BA-1224 rattled off at warp speed.  What is this?  Industry jargon.  And like all jargon, if you’re not in the industry, it’s difficult to decipher.  I’m keeping a list, though, and learning as I go.

Like OED.  In my English-major world, OED stands for Oxford English Dictionary, that huge 20-volume dictionary containing over 30,000 English words (i.e. the love of my life). But OED has over 15 definitions, depending on which industry you’re in.  Here at Alpha, in the manufacturing world, it has zero definitions–the acronym I thought I heard was actually OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Obviously I need to beef up my language-learning.  But the point of all this is that language–communication–is integral to the inner-workings of a company.  When Alpha implemented these morning meetings, the goal was to facilitate inter-departmental communication.  From that standpoint, it’s a great sign that I don’t understand a word they’re saying.  It means everybody there speaks the same language, communicates using the same vocabulary.

When they’re not speaking in code, I’m listening in as the group discusses contracts, beginning with the part designs and running through all the subsequent departments, ending with the shipping schedule and customer feedback.  It’s interesting to see how interconnected everyone is, and the importance of constant communication is obvious.  Getting a part off the page and into the customer’s hands requires, it seems, that you mind your own, and others’, business.

Speak English, already

9 Jun

Sesquipedalian: ses-kwi-pi-dey-lee-uhn (adj) given to using long words; (of a word) containing many syllables.  (n) a sesquipedalian word.

This word, and the words it describes, are like Slinkies to me: expandable, retractable, generally functionless but altogether fun-to-play-with toys.  Today, however, I was (gently) reminded that my fascination resides somewhere out on the margins of general interest.  So my new goal is to avoid these literary critters, and stick to good ol’ fashion English.  Or rather, new English.

To facilitate this, I’ll be implementing a “Sesquipedalian Violations” counter, so that sentences like this one will earn me two, maybe even three (?) demerits.  As for what that means, I’m inviting suggestions from you.  Nickel in a jar?  No ice cream?  Facebook privileges revoked?  I’m looking forward to your comments.  But please, be gentle.

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