If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday, 8 February 2010

Phrases to make you scream

No. 1: "Passionate about ..."

Sometimes I see or hear something, and it just sets all my irritation sensors ablaze. I first came across this one - I think - when I was recruiting for a new business a few years ago. Half the interviewees (all young, upwardly-thrusting professional types) claimed to be 'passionate about' what they did. It was such linguistic overkill that I smiled and put it to one side. But now it's bloody everywhere. I think it's the insincerity of it that irritates the most. I can see a religious person being passionate about their religion. I can see a loving couple being passionate about each other. I can see someone being passionate about a recreational activity - such as passionate about cinema, or even passionate about horses, or SCUBA diving, or dolphins. But passionate about a business activity?

Here, folks, are some of the things people are 'passionate about' in the modern marketplace (or, rather, expected to be, as many of them are from job adverts):

  • Enterprise
  • Fitness
  • Digital Media
  • Equality (And also Tackling Inequality)
  • A Smoke-Free Future
  • Hair
  • Stopping Climate Change [1]
  • Good Food
  • Peach Yogurt
  • Retro Artwork
  • Coffee
  • 'Vanish' adverts
  • Hepatitis (really)
  • Korean Pop Culture
  • Facilitating a Smooth Transition from KS2
  • Making Design Stand Out
  • Going The Extra Mile
  • Dentistry
  • The Web
  • Apples (the fruit, not the computer company)
  • Voluntary and Community Activity
  • Property
  • The Issue of Film Piracy
  • Pharmacy
  • The City Centre
  • Setting Goals
  • Stationery [2]
  • Education
  • Innovation
  • Performance (in cars)
  • Brands
  • Finding You The Perfect Supply Chain Role
  • Software
  • Creating Affordable Contemporary Design Solutions
  • Food Retail
  • Becoming the First Comprehensive Directory of Video Adverts
And, of course

  • What We Do.
All genuine.

When you think about the origins of the word, starting with 'the sufferings of Christ on the cross' (from Latin passionem), extending to suffering generally in the C13, and to that peculiar suffering endured in the throes of sexual love in C16, and to a deep-felt, all-encompassing enthusiasm by C17, it makes you think that Passionate About Becoming the First Comprehensive Directory of Video Adverts is rather debasing the language.

Ah well. Not the first time.

[1] Applications particularly welcomed from Danish monarchs called Cnut

[2] Heh. See previous post.


  1. "Chlamydia - Worth Talking About".*

    Er, no. A quick chat about someone's fascinating array of STDs and associated mucous products is never going to be high on the list of great conversations of our time.

    It would, however, be preferable to discussing the inherent passion in Finding You The Perfect Supply Chain Role...

    ...or "stacking shelves in Tesco at minimum wage" as it might be more honestly described.

    * Government health advisory currently showing no fewer than 20 times a night on satellite channels such as Motors TV.

  2. Your first line made me choke on my coffee. Thank you.

    I had read about the campaign but not seen it on TV. Strangely, I am reminded of all those tampon adverts when I was younger. I assumed that they were all about swimming and horse-riding and sailing, by women in skimpy costumes and all-white figure-hugging outfits. Life with Tampax seemed pretty exciting, and I wanted some. It was only later that I realised what they were actually for. It was a shock.


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