I’m reading a swank, expensive-looking newsletter produced by a nationally known insurance company and thinking about the not-so-fine art of being funny when you’re trying to be serious.
One of the worst side effects of jargon is its tendency to increase your chances of saying something that’s unintentionally funny.
For example, never say “the organization is beginning to feel the positive benefits.” Why? Because the phrase “positive benefits” instantly brings up the question, “Are there such things as negative benefits?” That is, benefits that not only don’t benefit you, they hurt you? Would the writer of this phrase ever write “the negative drawbacks?”
The failure of the writer and the editor to ask themselves these obvious questions is so depressing your morning coffee curdles in your stomach, causing intense heartburn, which causes you to take an unpaid sick day, which is a sort of negative benefit, or a positive drawback.