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.

Community of the Holy Trinity 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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