Language, Timothy!

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



(2004), "Language, Timothy!", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 7.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Language, Timothy!

Firstly, I apologise to most readers who will fail to see the link between this item and its heading. (“Language, Timothy!” is from an old, and not very good, British sit-com). The issue I want to raise is the way in which language – and terminology – changes over time. Sometimes, this results in PC (politically correct) language becoming non-PC (and vice versa), sometimes it simply signals that the user of a particular phrase is out-of-date. Sometimes the change takes many years; sometimes a change can happen in a matter of days. The term Prime Minister, for example, was originally one of abuse – applied to the holder of the office of First Lord of the Treasury. As a formal term of respect, Prime Minister was first used in a royal warrant in 1905. The point is to use language carefully to avoid giving unintentional offence. This is particularly true when working globally and/or in multi-cultural environments.

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