Saturday, April 11, 2009

New words at work

NEW words are created in many ways but the most frequent creativity is seen in the words that reflect current trends. Neologism is the term used for new lexical items when a new entry is sighted but one cannot be sure that it would reach the dictionary as an accepted word.

The contemporary world has thrown up many such creations and some of them deserve a chuckle or two for their extremely faithful reflection. Today, here is a look at some such constructs.

At this time of financial crisis, a special word has been pulled out of the language users’ hat to be used for a bank that cannot lend money because its liabilities are greater than its assets, but remains in business due to government support.

This bank is called a ‘zombie bank’ and The Daily Telegraph (March 6, 2009) first used this neologism: "In the mordant wit of the city, we have created zombie banks: they have been brought back from the dead but they are not functioning properly."

Perhaps the concern for the state of the world economy stands reflected in these neologisms. Whereas an employee’s annual allotment of vacation days is termed ‘vacation bank’: even if most insecure employees opt for a ‘micro-vacation’, which is a very short vacation. But it is better any day than the phenomenon of ‘vacation deprivation’ that refers to the foregoing of vacations due to too much workload.

The vacation deprivation is the result of ‘presenteeism’, which is the excessive presence of the work force. Coined after ‘absenteeism’, the problem of excessive employee absence, ‘presenteeism’ refers to the feeling that one must show up for work even if one is too sick, stressed, or distracted to be productive; the feeling that one needs to work extra hours even if one has no extra work to do.

And, of course, this whole paradigm leads to rat-race equilibrium that is the creation of a workplace balance in which an employee’s willingness to work long hours for possible promotion is equal to an employer’s belief that working long hours merits promotion.