Friday, January 8, 2010

going forward

I go to meetings where the tag line "going forward" erupts spontaneously whenever the speaker is signaling that the utterance is serious and ignored at the listener's peril. In the span of a few days I heard about how urgent it was, going forward, that we understand our mission, and that decisions made here should be recorded going forward. At one point I was even told, going forward, that it was time to break for lunch. The usage is everywhere, like an outbreak of the measles.

What does it actually mean? As an intensifier it doesn't have the slacker charm of "totally," or the gum-snapping resonance of "y'know," but there must be something about "going forward" that satisfies, maybe because it seems to sprinkle the speaker with the holy water of the future, a thing which the speaker understands and the listener does not. Is it a sly insult? Or just a jumped-up, self-important reload of "you betcha?" At the most recent gathering that was going forwarded to smithereens, I notied that the people who use and love this expression tended to work inside the Washington beltway.

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