Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crazy Straw

There is an irritating linguistic trend that appears to slowly be gaining traction in my office right now. I've been hearing people use the term "straw man" to describe what would more appropriately be called a first draft. The way I've always understood the term matches what Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster have to say, a straw man is not an argument that is made in good faith; it's an easily refutable misrepresentation of an opponent's position. I suppose it's possible that my co-workers are so devious that they are creating straw man arguments designed to discredit all of my work and ideas and cleverly disguising them as a rough drafts, but I kind of doubt it. Anyway, I hope that this fizzles out before it moves its way up the management chain, since I've found that all annoying and grammatically incorrect words and phrases that are used by upper management get parroted all the way down the org chart.


svec said...

Same thing at my work - although it's mainly a few specific people who use "straw man" as "rough draft."

I figured it was just a Texas thing, guess not.

Alan said...

I think it's too late. I think this term has been over used in consluting for a while, like most buzzwords.

Maybe we can blame Cap Gemini. When I first started working I worked with a lot of Cap Gemini consultants and they used this term all the time. It annoyed me at the time, and I didn't even know the alternate explanation then.

dhodge said...

I hadn't realized that the misuse was so widespread. The last comment on this discussion thread seems to capture what business people are talking about when they use the term. I'd argue that it's still a misuse of the term.