Ex-ABC chief coined 2018's worst phrase

Former ABC chairman Justin Milne's term for a 'stupid' phrase in place of firing staff has won The Plain English Foundation's worst phrase for 2018.

Justin Milne

Justin Milne later admitted the phrase was 'stupid' and 'a silly corporate euphemism for firing'. (AAP)

The brutal euphemism used by former ABC chairman Justin Milne for firing staff has taken out the not-so-coveted title of 2018's worst word or phrase.

Milne used the phrase "external career development opportunities" in an email chain with former ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to refer to firing journalist Emma Alberici over controversial articles that criticised the government's corporate tax plan.

He later admitted the phrase was "stupid" and "a silly corporate euphemism for firing her" to the ABC's Four Corners.

On Tuesday, his description was validated when The Plain English Foundation selected the phrase to top its list of the worst words of 2018 - an annual catalogue showcasing the lowest examples of doublespeak, spin and non-apologies every year.

"For years now corporations everywhere have contorted the English language to avoid an unpalatable reality," executive director Dr Neil James said in a statement.

"They use words like demising, disestablishing or deactivating to avoid saying 'job loss'."

The phrase beat a long list of other contenders for the 2018 title, with the foundation describing the year as a particularly poor one when it came to double speak.

The tech world, the foundation noted, was in particularly poor form this year - with Amazon masking eavesdropping with "voice sniffing" and Facebook labelling Russian election tampering as "coordinated inauthentic behaviour".

The Commonwealth Bank also came under fire for chief executive Matt Comyn's revelation that bank staff don't receive bonuses for higher sales but instead enjoy "short-term variable remuneration (to) elicit discretionary effort" at the Royal Commission.

Meanwhile, migrant children separated from their parents and held in what looked like cages were actually being held in "tender age shelters", according to the Trump administration.

"What these words and phrases have in common is that they deliberately intend to deceive," Dr James said.

"By using complex euphemisms, corporations try to avoid being accountable for their actions."

Published 18 December 2018 at 11:38am
Source: AAP