Terminology not published in any dictionary or thesaurus –but still some of my favorites.

During a conversation this morning I realized I am penta-lingual. I don’t know what you officially call speaking five languages but I speak English, “Southern”, “New Yorker”, “Geek” and “Business”. I am the official interpreter for my family (Southern) and my husband’s family (New Yorker). In my profession, I speak ‘geek’ and ‘business’ fluently; once again functioning as an interpreter for engineers and business executives during technical meetings. I used to be fluent in “Army” but I’ve been away from it too long and lost all my ability to communicate with the military folks. But, if you add speaking “Sales” to the list, then I guess I really speak six-versions of English. Whoever said American’s can’t learn another language was just so-o-o-o-o wrong.

I have listed a few of my favorite phrases from each of my ‘fluent’ languages and their interpretations for those who aren’t lucky enough to have had the extensive ‘training’ I’ve had over the years. (By the way you can’t go to school for this stuff — you have to learn it all the hard way.)

Business Executive says:
“Business Process Reengineering” — translates to “We’re going to fire people to improve profit margins.”
“Synergistic Properties” — translates to “They’ve got something we want — and we don’t want to pay for it.”
“Efficacy” — translates to “Doing the wrong thing, for right now, to the right people — and then putting it on signs and posters all around the offices as the new corporate slogan.”

Geek writes: (because geeks rarely speak out loud to anyone other than their peers)
“ID10t error” — self-explanatory for anyone in IT support — for the rest of us it means…I-D-I-O-T.
“PIC error” — translates to “Problem In Chair” or human user-input error caused this problem and many more just like it in the future.
“SU” — see above translations — since most of the geek acronyms all mean the same thing — stupid user.

Sales Executives says:
“Wallet Share” — translates to ‘Parting the customer from his money before the competition does it first”
“Sheep-people” — translates to “Customer never had an original thought — they are following the crowd and I can’t convince them to buy my product instead.”
“Strategizing” — translates to “Creating a plan to separate the customer from his money while slamming the competition as much as possible during the sales cycle.”

New Yorker says:
“But not for nothing” — translates to “I have no freaking idea why I said what I just said, but are you going to buy the product or not?”
“Urban Surfing” — translates to riding the subway during rush-hour and not being able to get a seat after being forced to sit in the corner of the sales meeting all day long.’
“I loved New York” — translates to “my customers used to buy this crap all the time- why doesn’t anyone in the South know how to do business like New Yorkers?”

Southerner says:
“Dumb as Dirt” — translates to “smarter than my second-cousin named Buford, who is running this place”
“Bless his heart” — translates to “Screw him and his sales proposals”
“Power Tripping” — translates to driving on I-85 like a maniac pretending to be the latest NASCAR Nextel points leader and has nothing to do with business.

There are more phrases I could share with you but I am certain you have more important things to do right now; like ‘prairie-dogging’ your cube-mates lunch or realigning your IT infrastructure with your business goals. I personally have to get back to “cold-calling my customer base” (stalking people relentlessly until they do business with my company) and ‘formulating my sales projections and strategies for next quarter'(making up numbers until my boss is happy).

So the next time you find yourself sitting in a business or sales meeting in the Carolinas with a bunch of “Yankees” (or if you are the New Yorker) take note of the compliments and comments passed around the table, not all are as ‘kind’ as they sound. And if the technical person in the room is making notes on ‘quad-grid’ paper and it looks like a bunch of ‘Alphabet soup’, then ask him for a copy and send it to me. I’d be happy to translate the insults from Geek to English 4-free.

Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of network technologies to business challenges. She can be reached via email at terrigrauer@hotmail.com.