Sunday, 14 January 2018

Things We Might Be Able to Do Without - I

Do we need the word 'functionality'? I believe it is quite new - or perhaps it was just rarely used in my youth, (or I was well sheltered). Possibly - fingers crossed - it is still not in favour, outside  bureaucratic circles. But is that actually much comfort? With the rise of the managers - eurgh, bleurgh, scourge of modern life - bureaucratic circles are spreading ever wider, especially in government towns like the one I half call home.

In this place, which overflows with civil servants, 'functionality' is considered a very acceptable piece of vocabulary.  Passing the pub on the corner, I overhear it uttered in conversation among drinkers. In the aisles of the local supermarket, clerks, meeting each other unexpectedly, prop themselves against the shelving and compare notes on the 'functionality' of their - I suspect often totally unnecessary - schemes.

Does it mean efficiency? Does it mean feasibility? Does it mean anything? Is the problem the functionality of functionality or the functionality of my brain?


  1. I have heard the word "functionality" for quite a few years now. (Which does not mean that it was around in my youth, at least.) It seems to mean simply "function": what something does, or how it does that. I infer a process similar to that which turned "use" into "usage". (Which once seemed to have a purely linguistic reference.) The belief that one can increase the power of a word by tacking on syllables has been around for a long time.