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Thursday, July 19, 2012

THE BEST WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

- And it is certainly not "please."

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My company has been fortunate to have conducted business all over the world. Visiting the different cultures has afforded us the opportunity to learn a lot about their perspectives on life, not to mention their humor and speech patterns. Inevitably we often compare notes about the expressions and idioms used by people. For example, in Australia, I was somewhat surprised to learn that a "rubber" referred to an eraser. I went to a restaurant and discovered they didn't have "doggie bags" but rather "pussy boxes." I had to bite my tongue on that one.

When people from overseas visited with us, they were enraptured by our slang and colloquialisms. The English, for example, had trouble understanding the expression "G2" which I commonly use in my presentations. The term is derived from the military and used to express the performance of research and intelligence work, e.g., "Did you do your G2?" While most Americans understood the expression, it baffled the British. The point is, I tend to believe Americans use a lot more jargon than we are cognizant of.

There is one word in our vernacular that outsiders particularly enjoy, Bulls*** (aka "BS"). In particular, the Japanese have a fondness for this word beyond description. Evidently, they have nothing comparable to it in their lexicon. They consider it the most versatile word in our language fulfilling many applications. It can be used to express intense displeasure with something, to describe a frivolous activity, to refute an argument, to cut someone off in conversation, and many other uses. It was made very clear to me by the Japanese and others, that in the business world, "BS", is the best word in the English language.

Not surprising, I have heard it used in many settings; in Japanese companies for example, a manager may shout it out for inferior workmanship; in Brazil it is amusing to hear Portugese conversation interrupted by a booming "BS"; or even the proper English allowing it to slip inconspicuously into the conversation, "I say old boy, that truly is bulls***." The Mexicans have, of course, adapted it to Spanish, "Caca de toro."

I fear though, the expression is doomed to extinction as it is more identified with my Baby Boomer generation and not by others. For example, my son's generation has no appreciation for the word and will seldom use it. It's a pity too, as I've found it to be one of the best words I have ever used, both in business and personal settings. Perhaps the Japanese will maintain it for us until future generations in this country rediscover its value.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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