17 June 2008

Are you going forward? Then stop now

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Are you going forward? Then stop now:
Blue sky thinking, pushing the envelope - the problem with office-speak is that it cloaks the brutal modern workplace in such brainlessly upbeat language... as Lucy Kellaway dialogues.

For the last few months I've been on a mission to rid the world of the phrase 'going forward'. But now I see that the way forward is to admit defeat. This most horrid phrase is with us on a go-forward basis, like it or not.

I tend to agree with the writer of this piece. I first became aware of this strange use of "going forward" about a year ago, and suddenly it is ubiquitous. Well, at least on radio and TV. Few people I actually know and talk to face to face use the phrase, and sometimes it creates bizarre images, as in the song:

Star trekking
across the universe
Always going forward
'Cause we can't find reverse.

But I suppose that's life (Jim, but not as we know it).


Aquila ka Hecate said...

I actually became aware of this phrase about 4 years ago when I was feeling out the possibility of doing a further degree with UNISA.
My 'student counsellor' came back with an email headed "The Way Forward", and I thought what an odd phrase.

So it might have started in acadamia, who knows?

Steve Hayes said...


Actually that doesn't sound strange to me, and I'm sure I've known it a long time. Also, I've heard people say "How do we go forward from here?" usually when stuck in a metaphorical sense. But it is the "going forward" that seems strange.

Adam Gonnerman said...

"Going forward" seems perfectly normal to me, and I can't remember when I first heard it. I work in a corporate environment and internal policy e-mails usually include the phrase in the context of changes to take effect immediately. I've also heard it spoken in tense meetings with management or training sessions.

Larry Kamphausen said...

I too don't remember when I first heard the phrase. Though I think it is used in a corporate setting. I have heard it used also in church contexts in terms of implementing changes in the congregation.
I too am not sure it is used in everyday conversation. Its use in the song I think illustrates the silliness of the phrase.


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