Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Garbage Language

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Garbage Language

Why Do Corporations Speak the Way They Do?

New York,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Literary critic Molly Young discusses the sometimes hilarious, sometimes pathetic ways in which corporate communication degrades language.

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


Literary critic Molly Young offers a witty dissection of how today’s businesses – especially start-ups, creative firms and online companies – spawn nonsense corporate slanguage and self-deluded gibberish. Young’s keen ear and sharp tongue will provide relief and amusement to anyone who’s endured a meeting replete with nonsense terminology, such as “parallel-pathing, growth hacking, upleveling” and “blitzscaling.”


Meaningless corporate speak – otherwise known as “garbage language” – pervades businesses and obscures communication.

In 2019, literary critic Molly Young returned to full-time work after taking a year out to work as a freelance writer. Though she welcomed a return to perks such as health care and free office supplies, she was loath to go back to a corporate environment where individuals butcher the vernacular with garbage language.

Consider the newfangled verb “to parallel-path,” which simply means to make two different versions simultaneously. This exaggerated, pointless phrase is a perfect corporate neologism. Such hot-air terms exist to fill up space and time. Garbage language phrases appear out of the ether and are contagious. Upon hearing the latest new expression, everyone within the business starts using it. By relying on colloquialisms instead of indecipherable corporate lingo, companies could eliminate much frustration and save time and energy.

Garbage language exists not to improve communication but to obscure it. Managers and executives often pepper their language with nonsense business-speak, sports references and wartime metaphors...

About the Author

Literary critic Molly Young writes about books and language for New York magazine.

Comment on this summary