Stop with the “going forward” already!

Going forward, I would like to eliminate the clumsy phrase “going forward” from the US lexicon. I mean, what is wrong with saying something more precise, like “in the future,” or something really wordy, like “later” or “soon.”

The phrase sounds stupid, as if the speaker had a lapse in memory and stammered out whatever words came to mind. It has no real meaning, even if one is trying to emphasize he does not want to go backward or regress.

Time was, “going forward” was a favorite of politicians and business types, who utter all sorts of vague and/or wonky terms that carry little real meaning outside these guys’ (and gals’) professional circles. After all, we are still “going forward” in Iraq, despite evidence to the contrary.

Lately, “going forward” has entered into more common venues. National discourse, meanwhile, goes backward.

This week, I heard a fellow on National Public Radio say in an interview, “We need to work on some things going forward.” Right. As if you could work on them by going into the past?

That same day, while glancing through a mail-order electronics catalog, my eyes fell on this charmer, “You’ll need some composite and S-video inputs for your current gear, but going forward, the most important inputs are …”

Now, this sentence could be construed to mean the really  important inputs are in the front of your video equipment, but the copywriter really means that, to stay abreast of high-definition TV development, one needs HD inputs as well as the old kind. In other words, bunky, plan ahead.

It’s natural for language to evolve. We express ourselves in much different ways than English-speakers did in Shakespeare’s time, or even Hemingway’s. Bill and Ernie would have some trouble understanding modern jargon, I’d bet.

It’s different, however, when vague and stupid-sounding phrases enter into common speech. (Like the wonky verb, “to impact,” which means “to affect, alter or change dramatically.”) That’s not progress. It’s regressive, moving speech from the communication of precise meaning to obfuscation.

Politicians and the suits in business might want (or need) to blur their meaning. There’s no reason for the rest of us to follow suit.

No more going forward for “going forward!” I’m drawing the line right here. Who’s with me?

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