Nice article, Wall Street Journal. Too bad you’re fifteen months too late.
Thanks to Nancy Friedman.
BLTN in the same way the NY Times had a recent article about uptalk and vocal fry fully four years after blogs appeared on these topics. OK, I know this is off-NOOBs.
Wow! Where to start…
1. As a relative newbie to this blog, I was not here when this term first appeared fifteen months ago, so this usage of “bespoke” is entirely new to me. I have always used it heretofore as the past tense of “bespeak,” which is not limited to the tailoring trade.
2. Steve’s comment, it seems to me, is a sign of the times. I have traditionally regarded the point of transition from the trade press to the popular press of a term or technology as a sign of its emergence from the laboratory into the culture. Could blogs be both a new form of laboratory as well as a popular medium, merging the two and blurring the line between them?
3. The cited WSJ article contains the paragraph, “But the term has also entered the corporate-speak lexicon, along with words like “right sizing” and “leveraging”—so much so that some executives say they are sick of hearing the word tossed around in boardrooms.”
If IBM’s Tom Watson, Jr., were still alive, I suspect he would classify “bespoke” as gobbledygook. In one of his letters to management, he said,
“A foreign language has been creeping into many of the presentations I hear and the memos I read. It adds nothing to a message but noise, and I want your help in stamping it out. It’s called gobbledygook. There’s no shortage of examples. Nothing seems to get finished anymore it gets ‘finalized.’ Things don’t happen at the same time but ‘coincident with this action.’ Believe it or not, people will talk about taking a ‘commitment position’ and then because of the ‘volatility of schedule changes’ they will ‘decommit’ so that our ‘posture vis-à-vis some data base that needs a sizing will be able to enhance competitive positions.’ That’s gobbledygook.” (February 19, 1970)
Just a quickie because I am working, but Hal, your #2 hints at a favorite topic of mine, the vastly increased amount of data that the online world has unleashed. If I were a young sociologist now instead of the superannuated one I have become, I would have a field day with this stuff. Poor Watson! No one will help him get rid of MBA jargon/gobbledygook. It gets worse by the day. Sorry, still off-NOOB.
Steve, (Since I don’t have the means to address you privately,) I’m lucky enough to be of a generation to be superannuated, too. [superannuated: Retire (someone) with a pension.] Pensions, I fear, are a thing of the past.
In reference to the caption above, “Too bad you’re fifteen months too late,” should this not read “…fifteen months late” instead, unless the word in question (“bespoke”) indeed was no longer in vogue in the U.S. by the time the Times started using it? My apologies if this was the author’s point.
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