To dialogue or not to dialogue

This morning a coworker almost killed me. Yesterday, he said, he had dialogued with a vice president. I couldn’t call Public Safety. This horrid neologism is popular in bureaucracies, which can’t drop the assumption that no basic word or phrase is enough to convey the importance of what just happened Kingsley Amis:

In the past, talks or discussions on important subjects were considered to be satisfactorily described as talks or discussion. Nowadays the two sides in a dispute, for instance, are apt to be engaged in (wait for it) a meaningful dialogue. The first element of this phrase is an absurdity, since no dialogue is meaningless, and the second illiterate, since any reasonable number can take part in dialogue or a dialogue. More charitably, perhaps, it can be said that we sympathize with the wish to assure reader or hearer that these talks or discussions are designed to get somewhere, not just to fill in time, but w have seen often enough what becomes of even well-formulated intentions. and anyway the whole meaningful-dialogue expression looks and sounds unbearably pompous. Nevertheless one would not wish to be deprived of a phrase that so unerringly points out its user as a humorless ninny.

You know what’s the sick part? WordPress didn’t underline “dialogued.”

A list of words and phrases I’ve forbidden students from using.

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