Why do we think this if it’s not true? Liberman argues that we are unconsciously combining our negative feelings about work or “bosses” with our discomfort for new slang. “Different groups—and groups in different settings—do have different ways of talking and writing, and everyone knows this as a matter of personal experience,” says Liberman. “But ordinary people have reasons to dislike managers more than they dislike sportswriters or particle physicists.” Managers give us orders. They make us attend meetings. Occasionally, they fire us.
“So when a neologism rubs someone the wrong way,” says Liberman, “and their stereotype-forming system is looking for a group to associate with it, ‘managers’ are a likely target.” Business does produce some strange new language, but so does everyday culture. In the end, we may have to admit that the language we hate is really our own.
Joshua J. Friedman, a former editor at the Atlantic and Boston Review, is a writer in New York City. He can be reached at joshuajfriedman.com.