A new dialect of English?

Published by Wreybies in the blog Ponderings of a Pachyderm. Views: 107

Ever since I came off of my last project, I had been classified incorrectly in the computer system where I work. I knew full well this was the case, given the type and frequency of calls I was receiving. I let it fly, because the calls were being passed through the newbie filter, and I get paid the same regardless of type, length or frequency of calls. The situation was rectified and now the regular calls are coming in again. Right now the majority of calls are dealing with Medicaid and Medicare.

How are the elderly supposed to understand any of that information? The person who is supposed to help enroll the customer in the Medicare Plan D starts listing off a bunch of information, obviously being read from a script (I know, because I also have the script provided for me in English and Spanish) and really isn’t explaining anything.

I thought cell phone plans were bad! They don’t even compare in complexity and obfuscation to the wording of any and all social services.

When did it become OK for language to stop conveying information?

I can hear the confusion in the voice of the person as I read this information in Spanish to them. I read the information myself in both English and Spanish, and it is written in a legalese that makes my brain hurt.

How do they expect people to understand this? Who writes this stuff? Have they any idea who their end customer is?

Within the school of applied linguistics, there are some rules that identify what is and what is not language. One of these rules is that words are arbitrary. The word dog is just a sound that we have chosen for various reasons to identify a fluffy companion of the canine species. The word is not set in stone. It can also be perro, chien, sobaka, and any number of other sounds in any number of other languages. The only part that must remain consistent is that the group which uses the word to refer to the item agrees, unanimously, that the word is a referent for the given item. There must be agreement and consistency within the group, but that is really all.

Given this rule, the sounds which spew from the mouths of the people with whom I work do not qualify as belonging to the English language. They use vocabulary, syntax, and grammar which are understood only by a tiny minority within the larger whole. Perhaps that would qualify the way they speak as a dialect of the standard tongue, perhaps not.

Perhaps I have found the subject for my dissertation.
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