FLAG IT UP

Quiz: Can you tell which of these workplace phrases are American and which are British?

Obsession
Language
Obsession
Language

Poor punctuation, bad spelling, and dead metaphors all pique language purists. But when it comes to pure annoyance, few areas of language seem to rile people as much as management-speak.

Often, terms annoy because they’re seen as being imposed by another culture. If you live in the UK, for example, you’re likely to blame America for a lot of corporate jargon.

But who is more responsible for the business world’s affronts to the English language: America or Britain? Lynne Murphy, a reader in linguistics at the University of Sussex in the UK (in the US, you’d call her a professor), analyzed the most-hated business terms according to YouGov, a surveying company based in the UK. She says that Americans and the British both are guilty of inventing and perpetuating business clichés, even while deriding them. (And with every company that goes global, and every upgrade to communications technology, our chances of hearing them increases on both sides of the pond.)

So can you guess where these terms originated?


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