Reversification


New Corp-Speak Word

The difference between fiction writers and financial investment writers has shrunk. Once only novelists asked readers to “willingly suspend disbelief.”  Now financial document crafters ask for the same treatment. But John Lanchester may upset that applecart.

John Lanchester is a gifted novelist with a lifelong interest in financial matters. He could be the guy who helps protect us from banksters. Read his 4 page article about language misuse in The New Yorker of August 4 in which he introduces his useful new word:

 What often vexes the language of money is [what I] call “reversification”—a process by whichwords take on a meaning that is     the opposite of, or at least very different from, their initial sense.”*

Lanchester applies reversification to clarify words that might cost you big bucks: hedge no longer is about limits but can mask unexpected and shaky extremes, securitization should make you insecure, synergy could cost you your job, credit might really mean debt and bail out can mean taking on water.

The financial services industry continues to resist strict requirements for clarity and simplicity in language that is supposed to inform consumers—rather than mislead them–about financial instruments and investments. Documents for used auto loans and mortgages are once again becoming dependent upon willing suspension of disbelief in the meaning of key words.

Our elected representatives either don’t yet get it or are content to live with it by using their willing suspension of disbelief in language of the financial industry to avoid suspension of vast political contributions from the financial industry.

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* John Lanchester, Money Talks, The New Yorker, August 4, 2014, page 31. He is the author of Capital, a novel. His next book, How To Speak Money, will be published in October—unless the Chamber of Commerce bans the book.

Note: reversification appeared too late for inclusion in the expanded Corp-Speak Glossary in the 2nd edition of The Consumerist Manifesto Handbook.  The word will be added to the Corp-Speak Glossary in my website, www.consumeristmanifesto.net.

 

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