“It’s fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a superannuated canine with innovative manoeuvres.” This is a well-known version of a much simpler saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Here’s another: “Is the remuneration of your current position commensurate with your proficiency and experience?” This means – in English – “Is the pay in your job equal to your skills and experience?”

In this dynamic new global business world most cross-border communication is done in English. Most of these communicators are using English as a second language – they are not native speakers. Don’t fall into the trap of sounding clever, but confusing your reader. Write for your reader, not for yourself.

Sir Nigel Hawthorne playing Sir Humphrey Appleby in "Yes, Prime Minister".

Sir Nigel Hawthorne playing Sir Humphrey Appleby in “Yes, Prime Minister”.

Here is another wonderful example of fancy language confusing the listener. This is from the TV series “Yes, Prime Minister”. The scene is in the Prime Minister’s office and the background is that new security measures have been taken to protect the Prime Minister. Sir Humphrey Appleby, Cabinet Secretary, enters the office through the window. He looks very upset, sweaty and untidy …

 Hacker: “Sir Humphrey! To what do we owe this pleasure?”
    Sir Humphrey: “Prime Minister, I must protest in the strongest possible terms my profound opposition to a newly instituted practice which imposes severe and intolerable restrictions upon the ingress and egress of senior members of the hierarchy and which will in all probability, should the current deplorable innovation be perpetuated, precipitate a constriction of the channels of communication and culminate in the condition of organisational atrophy and administrative paralysis which will render effectively impossible the coherent and coordinated discharge of the function of government within Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland!”
    Hacker: “You mean you’ve lost your key?”

Need I say more?