Business: The New Businessman's Lexicon

HUMAN kind cannot bear very much reality," wrote T.S. Eliot, and few businessmen would disagree. Since appearances are important in business as elsewhere, executives are quick to wrap their troubles in euphemisms, or at least camouflage them in obfuscating language. Many companies have been uncommonly troubled by the recent recession, which some experts prefer to call a "recedence" or "retardation," and by new attacks on industry's social conscience. One consequence is that the linguistic fog has begun to thicken in annual reports, executives' speeches and other official statements. A sampler:

A competitive year: Sales are down.

Operations audits: Cost chopping, often including mass...

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