We had a lot of organizational restructuring the past week at work, and a lot of managers flew in to communicate the changes and sell the positive impact they would have on the business and our lives as employees.
Personally, I was impressed by their coming, their genuine enthusiasm, and the content of their messages. But no good deed goes unpunished, and I've heard more than one smirking mimicry of phrases such as "leveraging the synergy" and other cliches popular in management-speak. This is not a local phenomenon, I see it all over, from Dilbert to STC meetings; people like to make fun of the way business managers talk.
Stop it! Every discourse community has its jargon and its cliches that are important vessels for cultural values and which are rich in meaning within those communities. Discourse community itself is a jargon-like word that I'm sure seems odd to someone not familiar with communication research. I made fun of it the first time I encountered it when I was starting my Masters in Technical Communication and ran across it in an article in the STC journal Technical Communication. Its only replacement would "a profession or otherwise socially-linked group that tends to communicate among itself and which develops a set of communication norms and vocabulary peculiar to itself." Gets to be a lot of words.
Cliches play an important role in efficient communication. Walter Ong talks about their importance in Orality and Literacy as being a cornerstone of oral tradition (making memorization easier and thus protecting the integrity of a message over multiple repetitions). Although English teachers would tell us they are empty of meaning, I think linguists and anthropologists would tell us they are rich in meaning beyond what the bandwidth of their symbology would allow otherwise.
So I put making fun of manager-speak right down there with comments such as "Is Google a verb?" Hey, we're trying to talk to each other here, folks; more listening and less critiquing would be helpful.