Why do words and phrases seep into the psyche of an organisation? It’s a question that has puzzled me for some time.
One word that has recently become the ‘in word’ is: Cadence.
I have no idea where it came from and I had assumed it was one of our internal words. Recently I’ve heard it used by other people in other organisations so decided that it’s use must have become more widespread, though not commonplace. One of my tests of whether something is office-speak or normal-speak is to ask Sue (my wife) if she knows what it means. When she looks blank I know that I’ve spent too long on conference calls.
Cadence has a several meanings, all of them point towards rhythm or repetition:
Rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words:the cadence of language.
(in free verse) A rhythmic pattern that is nonmetrically structured.
The beat, rate, or measure of any rhythmic movement: The chorus line danced in rapid cadence.
The flow or rhythm of events, especially the pattern in which something is experienced:the frenetic cadence of modern life.
A slight falling in pitch of the voice in speaking or reading, as at the end of a declarative sentence.
The general modulation of the voice.
Music. a sequence of notes or chords that indicates the momentary or complete end of a composition, section, phrase, etc.
None of these meanings relate directly to the way it’s used in my world. It’s normally used in a phrase similar to this:
We need a regular cadence for these meetings
Previously we would have used the word schedule, but over the last 12 to 18 months this appears to have been superseded by cadence. I have no idea why we decided to change, but change we have. Perhaps there’s an interesting social experiment that could be created to understand why groups of people change the words that they use.
There’s a couple of terms I’m still struggling with:
- Cost wire-brushing
- Bamboo connection point