Avoid Business Writing Mumbo Jumbo

101

Avoiding Mumbo Jumbo

I used the following sentence in a previous post:

An accreditation analysis was conducted of the performance level of the administration of the senior executive compensation disbursement mechanism.      

We learned that one problem with this kind of writing is nominalization — the stringing together of multiple nouns. Examples include “accreditation analysis” and “senior executive compensation disbursement mechanism.”  But there’s more wrong with this sentence than just creeping nounism: it’s also what we call mumbo jumbo.

Mumbo jumbo is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Mumbo jumbo is writing that sounds impressive but doesn’t accomplish much. The meaning, if there is any, gets buried beneath piles of multisyllable words and awkward constructions.

Mumbo Jumbo can be found not only in the world of business, like the example above, but also in academic writing:

The political view of the author is made apparent in the final scene as one observes the introduction of evil-intentioned characters allegorically representative of pseudo-capitalism.

Say what? Mumbo Jumbo is also quite common in political writing:

Be assured that it is my intention to treat the aforementioned issue with the requisite sobriety and introduce the matter without delay to the appropriate committee chairman.

So how do you avoid creating mumbo jumbo? The place to begin is by checking your attitude.

Attitude      

The problem usually begins with the writer’s attitude and intentions. If he is desperate to sound impressive, he will be more likely to fall into mumbo jumbo by adopting a tone that he believes will impress his readers. If he wants to hide the fact that he has nothing valuable to say, he might load up his prose with meaningless phrases. Or, as in the case of the politician above, he might want to give the impression that he cares deeply – without actually promising to do anything. In any of these cases, the writing will tend toward gobbledygook because the writer is insincere.

To avoid an affected tone, you’ve got to have something meaningful to say and a desire to say it well. Be sincere. Write what you think, not just what you think the reader wants to hear. Trust your own voice, your own style. This attitude will come through in the words you write, and you will avoid mumbo jumbo.

WriteAtHome: We Teach Writing for You!

 Jargon

Jargon is terminology common to people in a particular field. Surfers, for example, might pepper their writing with terms like barrel, barney, grommet, and rag doll. Computer techs might throw around words like C moss, diags, and kernel. The point is, the more jargon you use, the more incomprehensible your writing becomes to the ordinary reader. Don’t assume your reader is familiar with obscure terminology. Use plain English words.

Mumbo jumbo: Your de-hiring is necessitated by a downturn in liquid assets.

Plain English: We’re out of money, so you’ve been laid off.

 Circumlocution

Circumlocution is “talking around” a subject. It describes writing that buzzes about the topic like a fly that never lands on anything. It is intentional wordiness. It’s stalling for time. Circumlocution is a temptation to students who are more interested in reaching the paper length requirement than actually saying something that matters. It’s also a trick of politicians who avoid a question by only seeming to answer it. Eliminate circumlocution by having a point and getting to it quickly.

Mumbo jumbo:  Above all, let it be said without hesitation, and in all sincerity, that regardless of the potential personal cost to me and my loved ones and my many supporters, I accept whatever responsibility for the present situation might fall to my momentary lapse of judgment, however well-intended and out of character.

 Plain English: I’m sorry for what I did.

Passive Voice

“A salary increase was declined.” That’s the mumbo jumbo version of, “The board of directors chose not to raise salaries.” The important difference between these two sentences is the voice of the verb: the former is passive, and the latter is active. With passive constructions, things just seem to happen. Nobody acts. Passive voice verbs should be used only rarely. Active verbs are more lively and make clear the party responsible for behavior.

Mumbo jumbo: A solution has yet to be found.

Plain writing: The Board of Directors has yet to find a solution.

Linking Verbs

Similarly, mumbo jumbo prefers linking verbs like is, are, and become to action verbs like increase, envision and create. As a result, the writing is flat and dull. Use action verbs whenever possible. Make your subjects live and move.

Mumbo jumbo: Profits for July are in a state of decline.

Plain writing: July profits dropped by twenty percent.

The best way to avoid mumbo jumbo is to be sincere and write plainly in your own voice. Business writing may be more formal than other kinds of writing, but it should still be human.

*****

In order to encourage an effervescent community marked by commonality of interest and a selfless willingness to exchange individual knowledge and expertise, producing a growing mutuality of benefit, it is recommended that thoughts, questions, concerns and peripheral commentary be contributed by all readers using the discussion facilitation widget found in the nethermost region of this page.

Translation: Please leave your comments below.

About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Radiowecker Vergleich
    Radiowecker Vergleich03-24-2017

    They are really convincing and can definitely work.

  2. photo editor
    photo editor03-24-2017

    Only a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style and design.

  3. bactefort
    bactefort03-24-2017

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Many thanks for supplying these details.

  4. Avesoro
    Avesoro03-24-2017

    You are my inspiration, I possess few web logs and rarely run out from brand . The soul that is within me no man can degrade. by Frederick Douglas.

  5. for details
    for details03-23-2017

    This is a topic that is near to my heart Cheers! Exactly where are your contact details though?

  6. this website
    this website03-23-2017

    Very good blog.Really thank you! Awesome.

  7. this website
    this website03-23-2017

    Really enjoyed this post.Thanks Again. Really Great.

  8. day trading stocks
    day trading stocks03-23-2017

    Many thanks for sharing this good article. Very inspiring! (as always, btw)

  9. to read more
    to read more03-22-2017

    Perfect piece of work you have done, this website is really cool with excellent info.

  10. Joma Jewellery Bracelets
    Joma Jewellery Bracelets03-22-2017

    Chunky men’s rings now obtainable. 9mm width, sterling silver, handcrafted and custom
    made to order.

  11. http://bjhhn.com.cn
    http://bjhhn.com.cn03-22-2017

    The theft made world headlines and unwanted publicity for
    one of the world’s most visited cities, where hotels and
    the broader vacationer sector have struggled to make a comeback commercially after
    deadly attacks by Islamic militants in 2015.

  12. alabama insurance premium finance
    alabama insurance premium finance03-22-2017

    Thank you ever so for you article.Much thanks again. Keep writing.

  13. Roseanne
    Roseanne03-22-2017

    This form of piercing is found on the sculpture of Tutankhamen.

  14. Morris
    Morris03-22-2017

    When cleaning platinum, it actually will be an easy undertaking to
    make use of an expert or purchase a industrial package.
    As with the opposite two educational modules on methods to clean jewellery, I’ll level you under to a number of
    the top merchandise you can find on Amazon for cleaning
    platinum jewelry at home.

  15. alabama truck insurance rate
    alabama truck insurance rate03-22-2017

    You should not clone the girl as start looking specifically. You should contain the girl as design, yet with your own individual distinct distort.

  16. Andra
    Andra03-22-2017

    Neck laces: This year a lot more is far much less.
    Wouldn’t have on one follicle ,put on quite a few strands during lengthy ranges.
    Crystals are again massive time in a spectrum of colours. What better approach relatively than convey to existence a easy outfit with pigmented
    rocks.

  17. manfung.myvnc.com
    manfung.myvnc.com03-22-2017

    Jewellery making is barely completely different to clothes
    trend. The designers generally have a lot more scope to
    what they’ll do with their gadgets. With clothes, they are often outgoing but nonetheless must be purposeful and acceptable to be worn.

  18. Elijah
    Elijah03-22-2017

    The government displayed the 750 pieces within the three sets of jewelry to the media.

  19. Joma Jewellery
    Joma Jewellery03-22-2017

    It also offers details about world gold reserves, the historic and forecast data on gold production, prices and major corporations in Gold mining sector, gold consumption, and the aggressive landscape.

  20. joma jewellery stockists
    joma jewellery stockists03-22-2017

    This unique item includes a handy rectangular cube development, measuring 14 inches excessive and four inches sq..
    It is constructed solely of clear acrylic and has 12 hooks designed to accommodate 12 necklaces or small link bracelets in its detachable lid.

  21. Gonzalo
    Gonzalo03-22-2017

    Margaret Schindel has designed, created and sold one-of-a-sort and custom handcrafted jewelry
    for many years. She loves sharing her strategies.

  22. cash for gift cards
    cash for gift cards03-20-2017

    Very good blog article.Thanks Again. Fantastic.

  23. go right here
    go right here03-20-2017

    Enjoyed every bit of your blog post.Much thanks again.

  24. forge of empires hack no survey
    forge of empires hack no survey03-20-2017

    Very good article.Thanks Again. Fantastic.

  25. ball lip balm lipstick
    ball lip balm lipstick03-20-2017

    Im no expert, but I suppose you just crafted an excellent point. You clearly comprehend what youre talking about, and I can really get behind that. Thanks for being so upfront and so truthful.

  26. Breaking News
    Breaking News03-20-2017

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

  27. buy backlinks online
    buy backlinks online03-20-2017

    Wow! This can be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Great. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  28. dispensary shops near me
    dispensary shops near me03-19-2017

    There is apparently a bundle to identify about this. I suppose you made some good points in features also.

  29. Christian edm
    Christian edm03-19-2017

    Thanks for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

  30. Bitcoin Investment
    Bitcoin Investment03-19-2017

    Im obliged for the blog.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  31. P3O Course
    P3O Course03-19-2017

    The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about.

  32. internet advertising
    internet advertising03-17-2017

    I really enjoy the article.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  33. check out
    check out03-17-2017

    I recommend them for sure What type of images am I аАа’аАТ‚аЂТ˜legally a allowed to include in my blog posts?

  34. Mobeltransport Berlin
    Mobeltransport Berlin03-17-2017

    This brief posting can guidance you way in oral treatment.

  35. พี่เลี้ยงเด็ก
    พี่เลี้ยงเด็ก03-16-2017

    There is apparently a lot to identify about this. I assume you made various good points in features also.

  36. MassageandSpaclub.com
    MassageandSpaclub.com03-16-2017

    A round of applause for your post.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

  37. best posture corrector
    best posture corrector03-16-2017

    wow, awesome blog post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

  38. super shuttle
    super shuttle03-16-2017

    The topic is pretty complicated for a beginner!

  39. stitcher
    stitcher03-16-2017

    pretty valuable stuff, overall I consider this is worth a bookmark, thanks

  40. social dad
    social dad03-16-2017

    Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is fantastic, let alone the content!

  41. Rachael
    Rachael03-16-2017

    very good blog! Also visit my webpage healthy Diet

  42. Star
    Star03-15-2017

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is fantastic, as well as the content!

  43. to learn more
    to learn more03-15-2017

    I think this is a real great blog article.Really thank you! Much obliged.

  44. Marrakech palmeraie camel riding
    Marrakech palmeraie camel riding03-15-2017

    Wow, great article.Much thanks again. Want more.

  45. https://can-ho-biet-thu-vinhomes.blogspot.com/
    https://can-ho-biet-thu-vinhomes.blogspot.com/03-15-2017

    I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You ave made my day! Thx again!

  46. ohne rezeot
    ohne rezeot03-15-2017

    I really like and appreciate your blog post.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  47. Muslim countries
    Muslim countries03-14-2017

    Really informative blog article.Really thank you! Want more.

  48. Salzkristalllampe gunstig
    Salzkristalllampe gunstig03-14-2017

    Keep up the great piece of work, I read few content on this web site and I think that your web blog is rattling interesting and contains lots of good info.

  49. Bitcoin Investment
    Bitcoin Investment03-14-2017

    Thanks-a-mundo for the blog article.Really thank you! Cool.

  50. where to find weed
    where to find weed03-14-2017

    Thanks-a-mundo for the blog article.Thanks Again. Keep writing.

  51. service host
    service host03-13-2017

    Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is fantastic, let alone the content!. Thanks For Your article about sex.

  52. Zombie
    Zombie03-13-2017

    Thanks for the article. Great.

  53. Luxury Yacht Charter
    Luxury Yacht Charter03-12-2017

    You ave made some good points there. I looked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.

  54. Paternity Test
    Paternity Test03-12-2017

    I?d must test with you here. Which isn at one thing I usually do! I enjoy studying a put up that will make people think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to remark!

  55. travel
    travel03-12-2017

    I cannot thank you enough for the article post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  56. tea reviews
    tea reviews03-11-2017

    I think other website proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and magnificent user genial style and design, let alone the content. You are an expert in this topic!

  57. Online Business
    Online Business03-11-2017

    I really liked your blog post.Much thanks again. Really Great.

  58. exotic car rental
    exotic car rental03-11-2017

    What as up colleagues, I am for a second time here, and reading this post related to SEO, its also a nice piece of writing, thus keep it up.

  59. video analytics
    video analytics03-11-2017

    Looking forward to reading more. Great blog post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  60. Information System
    Information System03-10-2017

    It as great that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our argument

  61. Entertainment news and music
    Entertainment news and music03-10-2017

    This is a beautiful shot with very good lighting.

  62. Best Fidget Spinner Sales
    Best Fidget Spinner Sales03-10-2017

    Thanks again for the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…

  63. cheap mens sneakers
    cheap mens sneakers03-10-2017

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article.

  64. what happen
    what happen03-10-2017

    Utterly written articles , thanks for entropy.

  65. data recovery services
    data recovery services03-10-2017

    Say, you got a nice blog.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on

  66. Watching the Super Bowl
    Watching the Super Bowl03-10-2017

    Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is excellent, as well as the content!

  67. crown
    crown03-10-2017

    Looking forward to reading more. Great article.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  68. Katamarayudu Songs
    Katamarayudu Songs03-10-2017

    A big thank you for your blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  69. icicles no38
    icicles no3803-10-2017

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog.Really thank you!

  70. EZ Battery Reconditioning
    EZ Battery Reconditioning03-08-2017

    Thanks for the article.Thanks Again. Fantastic.

  71. list of auto insurance companies in canada
    list of auto insurance companies in canada03-08-2017

    Quite instructive blog site. Will browse on

  72. ar condicionado automotivo sp
    ar condicionado automotivo sp03-08-2017

    Wow, what a video it is! Genuinely fastidious quality video, the lesson given in this video is truly informative.

  73. travel food review in Italy
    travel food review in Italy03-08-2017

    Very very good publish, thank that you simply lot pertaining to sharing. Do you happen to have an RSS feed I can subscribe to be able to?

  74. Wholesaler toy kermesse
    Wholesaler toy kermesse03-07-2017

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was totally right. This post actually made my day. You cann at imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  75. buy cccam
    buy cccam03-07-2017

    Really informative blog post.Much thanks again. Great.

  76. nikon d5300 cost
    nikon d5300 cost03-07-2017

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful article. Thanks for providing this information.

  77. exercise
    exercise03-07-2017

    Thank you ever so for you article post.Much thanks again. Really Great.

  78. online product catalog
    online product catalog03-07-2017

    Thanks again for the article.Much thanks again. Will read on…

  79. seo prices australia
    seo prices australia03-07-2017

    This very blog is obviously educating and besides factual. I have picked up a lot of helpful tips out of this source. I ad love to visit it every once in a while. Thanks a lot!

  80. dog training
    dog training03-07-2017

    Thanks for an explanation. All ingenious is simple.

  81. gmail.com signin
    gmail.com signin03-07-2017

    I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You ave made my day! Thx again

  82. darceky
    darceky03-07-2017

    may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  83. optician uk
    optician uk03-07-2017

    Really informative blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…

  84. tsx performance
    tsx performance03-07-2017

    There is evidently a bundle to identify about this. I suppose you made certain good points in features also.

  85. tsx stock
    tsx stock03-07-2017

    I think other web site proprietors should take this web site as an model, very clean and great user genial style and design, let alone the content. You are an expert in this topic!

  86. Saugerties acoustic
    Saugerties acoustic03-06-2017

    Thank you ever so for you blog.Really thank you! Great.

  87. democrats
    democrats03-06-2017

    You have remarked very interesting points ! ps decent website.

  88. Iphone_6
    Iphone_603-06-2017

    I will right away grab your rss as I can at find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you ave any? Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  89. replacement windows at home depot
    replacement windows at home depot03-06-2017

    Thank you for your article.Really thank you! Really Great.

  90. Chana
    Chana03-06-2017

    Very neat post.Really thank you! Cool.

  91. free pron
    free pron03-05-2017

    vMxbYM wow, awesome blog.Much thanks again. Much obliged.

  92. Saved Girl
    Saved Girl01-17-2013

    Great post. This made me think of a funny grammar related video. John Branyan talks about confusing Old English and then proceeds to recite The Three Little Pigs in (mostly) Olde English. It is quite hilarious! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxoUUbMii7Q

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko01-17-2013

      Someone shared that video with me some time ago, SG. Thanks for the reminder and the link. Very clever. :)

      • JJ
        JJ01-18-2013

        I like that link too. Some friends of mine showed it to me.

  93. Brian Wasko
    Brian Wasko01-16-2013

    Feel free to share it, Rhonda! :)

  94. Rhonda Barfield
    Rhonda Barfield01-16-2013

    My friends in academia need to read this post. :/

  95. Pat Eickman
    Pat Eickman01-16-2013

    Well said. Bravo!

Leave a Reply

If you like a post, please take a second to click "like," and comment as often as you like.
We promise not to correct your grammar!