Update: the language of disruptive reform

On April 2, at http://theartpart.jonathanmorse.net/thesaurus-of-verbs-and-nouns/, I posted a note about the higher education section of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s website. I thought the corpus of management jargon displayed there might demonstrate that the Gates Foundation doesn’t have any sense of language as a way for people to communicate what they are to other people. To judge from their language, the people who speak for the foundation regard education as job training, only, and regard people as employees, only. The vocabulary of the Gates Foundation seems to have no words for what is merely human. And if that vocabulary becomes the administrative lingua franca of America’s universities, there sure won’t be a place in an American university for an English teacher like me. Already my counter-corpus — a 1949 advertisement which asks us to react in a human way to the one-syllable English word “men”–  reads like a chrestomathy in a dead language.

That was my contribution to the linguistics of corporate language as of April Fool’s Day, 2014. But here’s a new corpus of the language as it’s being spoken in July: a form letter that begins, “Hello there,” goes on after a very long introduction to deliver the news that the recipient has been fired, and then concludes with a bulletin about the employer’s plan for its future without the recipient. The employer — it is Microsoft, the founding source of the Gates Foundation — thinks of the recipients of its communication only as employees, even after the communication has unemployed them.

That is how autism — poor, emotionally maimed autism — talks in its heroic phase. With thanks to Kevin Roose for the analysis: