Friday, May 14, 2010

The new office lingo ‘You’re so 404’


MY PAPER, F R I D A Y, MAY 1 4 , 2 0 1 0, PAGE A1 & A4, NEWS

PHOTO: A 404 error means that whatever page you tried to reach on the Internet isn't there. Usually this means that you didn't type the correct address in the browser or that the link you used to try to access the page was wrong.

Should you hear the words “you’re so 404” being shouted across office cubicles and you don’t know what it means, here’s a hint: The three digits typically show up when a webpage you’re looking for can’t be found.

Meaning to say, you’re “404” when you’re lost and don’t have a clue about what’s going on.

Office workers here, especially those of multinational companies, have been eschewing cliches in recent years, opting instead to use creative mashes of Western and Singaporean terms.

For example, property agent Jasline Lim, 36, often hears and uses the term “blue-skying”, which means brainstorming with a mind as open as the blue sky, in place of the over-used “thinking outside the box”.

PHOTO: A Short Survey and Some Blue Sky Thinking

Originating from the Western phrase “blue-sky thinking”, the Singaporean spin-off has been shortened, a characteristic of home-grown lingo.

PHOTO: After the recent debate over the Wii, it is nice to see there is some real innovation and blue sky thinking out there. Finally, a new type of controller we can get behind!
The future of gaming interaction is here at last!

From: That guy's a Maniac...

PHOTO: Ducks in a Row Photo by Mike Hall.

Mr Rick Ong, 30, a treasury adviser at a bank here, has come across such expressions as “ducks in a row”, where staff readily accept an idea without offering their own, and “blamestorming”, a discussion to find fault rather than to solve a problem.

PHOTO: Blamestorming

PHOTO: Ducks in a row: Photo by Photographer Ron Adair -

PHOTO: Nuts and bolts

Some phrases, like “we need to check all the nuts and bolts of this machine”, have underlying meanings. This phrase is used to call for a thorough search for the culprit of a major mistake.

PHOTO: Before I get into the nuts and bolts how to make money online

Mr Ong said: “Learning such lingo makes it easier to communicate with others who use it, and I can better understand the messages that my colleagues are trying to project.

Office slang has cultural slant

Office-speak is not new or uncommon, but due to the influx of international companies into Singapore, lingo is imported and mixed with local culture, creating new slang, said Associate Professor Francis Bond from the Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University. He said: “The slang used here is different from that used in the West, because Singapore is a multilingual society, so sometimes we have direct translations or shorter variants.

PHOTO: Time to get my rusted drawing skills some run and see if I still have it

This can be seen in some examples like “get arrowed” and “spoil market”. To “get arrowed” is to be given an unfavourable assignment, and you “spoil market” by doing so well at work that your colleagues pale in comparison.

Certain words or acronyms could have been influenced by local culture or phenomena as well,” said Prof Bond.

PHOTO: Laser Eye Ultra Waves
An example is a term like “z-monster” (sleepiness). It apparently originated here among men serving their national service, but it can be found in other countries as well.


PHOTO: Sad Mac, Broken image, 404 error Apache server

Term: 404
What it means: Someone who is completely clueless
Origin: The Internet’s HTTP 404 Error page, displayed when a page cannot be found
Usage: Don’t ask Jim, he’s 404.

PHOTO: The design on this 404 page is very tasteful, but pretty.

PHOTO: let break the myth of unlimited disk space and bandwidth

Term: Bandwidth
What it means: Ability to accept a project or idea
Origin: The capacity of online data transfer
Usage: I don’t have enough bandwidth for this project.

Term: CLM (Career-Limiting Move)
What it means: An ill-advised action that will threaten one’s promotion chances
Origin: Not known
Usage:Scolding the boss is a serious CLM.”

PHOTO: Would make a solid logo

Term: Seagull manager
What it means: A supervisor who flies in, makes a lot of noise and mess, then leaves
Origin: Neighbourhood birds that create a lot of trouble
Usage: The seagull manager voided our entire proposal.

PHOTO: A little fable about how one seagull manager learned the three virtues of great leadership.

PHOTO: They bring a potent blend of strategic thinking

Term: Strategic staircase
What it means: An exaggeration of tactical steps and extra effort put in to improve performance
Origin: A staircase being a metaphor for progression
Usage: We have planned a strategic staircase for our department.