As someone who adores the beauty and lyricism of my native tongue, I have to confess to cringing on occasion when I hear or read some new phrase that comes into common parlance. 

My least favourites of recent times have to be "phablet" (yuck!), "mansplaining" (meh!), the very new entry of "phigital" (read in Deborah Dietzler's interesting article) and lastly, don't get me started on the odious "fake news" - lies are lies and credible news is credible, and the one should be evident from the other, based on realities not on whether it suits your agenda or not. (Author Steven Poole, writing for the Guardian below, unveils some of the most detested office jargon that today's workers can't abide.)

And yet, whilst I might shudder to hear certain new words in use, I love the introduction of others into our lexicon. What's not to like, for example, about "hangry" (it does exactly what it says on the tin, as they say) or to misunderstand about "mindfulness"  or better still who can deny, for those of us that still remember the manic days of early parenthood, that the term "poonami" or "poomageddon" does indeed accurately describe the "fearful devastation wrecked by an infant's bowels".  

To deny that our language is constantly evolving, becoming richer, adapting to reflect the most contemporary of situations and environments in which we find ourselves, would be foolish.Stephen Fry who, in his essay Don't Mind your Language, berated the grammar pedants of our time,says it best when he says: "Just let the words fly from your lips and your pen. Give them rhythm and depth and height and silliness. Give them filth and form and noble stupidity. Words are free and all words, light and frothy, firm and sculpted as they may be, bear the history of their passage from lip to lip over thousands of years. How they feel to us now tells us whole stories of our ancestors."

So, in that spirit, I return to the title of this post and to how we at Equinet have made our own contribution to the English-speaking world (you're welcome) in the form of a new verb: "to squirrel".  

How? It all derives from the brilliant Disney Pixar movie Up, when a golden retriever called Dug (who wears a collar that allows him to speak) is in the middle of explaining something to his new friends Carl and Kevin when - as dogs are prone to do - he is suddenly distracted by the sight of a squirrel in the distance... he shouts "squirrel" and he's gone, his mind is elsewhere.   

Now, transpose that same type of deviation to an office setting: the Equinet team are sitting down on a Monday morning planning our Sprint, which comprises all the client activity we need to achieve for the week ahead. We're looking to be concise, to stick to our allotted time for the meeting, but despite our best efforts, one area of discussion starts to wander, people begin to wax lyrical, to get distracted by the minutae, in short someone has "squirrelled".  

We now call each other out on "squirrelling" in meetings, or else, a team member will apologise if they find themselves going off-track: "sorry, that's a total squirrel" (in this case, you'll see we've developed its use to that of a noun.)  And now, we even have our own "squirrel" mascot who will be brought out to sit on the table at meetings which we fear could fall victim to verbosity or meandering.

I'm sure that we aren't the only business that's created its own linguistic device that's now in common usage amongst colleagues. I'd love to hear yours.

Image credit: likeaduck

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