Sunday, 17 August 2008

Tues 12 Aug: Quantum of nonsense

Several years ago, when I worked in voluntary sector policy development, a colleague of mine entrusted me with a “jotter of jargon” (or a book of b**s**t, to put it another way). He’d gathered a litany of gobbledegook and mumbo-jumbo from his dealings with government, policy wonks and people who’d disappeared up their own backside while trying to sound clever. I still have that jotter, packed away safely in storage somewhere, and working in my current role has provided some fine examples to add to it!!

I give you…

“Mapping activity to establish the quantum of multi-funded NGOs for the purposes of assessing the scope of standards applying and informing the design of an implementation model.”

Now, quite apart from the completely unreadable nature of this sentence, what the hell does a “quantum of NGOs” mean!?

I felt the need to waste some time by looking this up online…Here is the definition of “quantum” from wordreference.com.

1. (physics) the smallest discrete quantity of some physical property that a system can possess (according to quantum theory)
2. a discrete amount of something that is analogous to the quantum in quantum theory

Yep, that’s what I thought!

On the bright side, this may be the only occasion when the NGO world has had anything in common with a James Bond film.

Just two minutes later (and from the same anonymous author), I found…

“These findings substantially limit the complexity of the policy response required to address cross-program standards.”

I think that means “we don’t need to do anything because there isn’t a problem”.

And then, in the same day, but from a different source:

“…examine the most appropriate modality for the provision and support of training into the future.”

Yet again, I turned to wordreference.com to help shed some light on this curious language. Apparently, a modality is:

1. a particular sense
2. a method of therapy that involves physical or electrical therapeutic treatment

Electric shock therapy as a new training technique for NGOs – I can see it working!!

All similar contributions gratefully appreciated.

1 comment:

Paul said...

“…examine the most appropriate modality for the provision and support of training into the future.”

Hmm, ‘modality’ turns up quite a lot in the land of psychology. We use it to mean ‘way we might do it’ or ‘way we might approach it’. We also use it to refer to the form of the communication (verbal, written or using funny pictures, for example).

“Mapping activity to establish the quantum of multi-funded NGOs for the purposes of assessing the scope of standards applying and informing the design of an implementation model.”

This is really bad. I’m bored at the moment so here’s an attempt at translation:

“We need to find out how many multi-funded NGO’s there are. This will help us find out what sort of standards the design of our implementation model will be judged against.”

When I applied for the civil service one of the tests was reading complex nonsense like this. Sounds like it must be par for the course in government. Shame. Makes you wonder what the function of it is.

Anyway, must stop procrastinating (or more simply, must get on).

Speak soon, Paul.