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No glaring acronyms here

by 23 Mar 2009Action plan planning0 comments


The Emperor’s New Clothes, Vilhelm Pedersen

Unsustainable Use of Language: Reader Jim Dawson suggests ‘sustainability’ may now have as about substance as the emperor’s new clothes. artist Vilhelm Pedersen

Firstly, you must be congratulated on the excellent online Mahurangi Magazine—it continues to be of interest and relevance.

Thank you for allowing us to share it; we love it.

You asked for comment on the title Mahurangi Initiative Strategy. Here is my small contribution, penny’s worth, and it’s offered constructively:

  • Mahurangi Can’t argue with that!
  • Initiative Derived from ‘initial’, meaning beginning, seems to me to have the meaning of ‘first step’ in some action or the ‘power to act independently’ over some activity. I know that words change their meaning over time but is this what we really mean?
  • Strategy This does not say much about anything in particular; are we talking about how plan to win something (yacht racing) or creating something. If the latter, why not say what this is?

It seems to me that there is a danger we may be encouraged to use words without looking at their meanings, just because the words look good. For example, the overuse of words such as sustainability, which mean something different to each person who uses them and now have no sensible single meaning—a bit like the emperor’s new clothes.

How about Mahurangi Policy for the Environment?—no glaring acronyms here!

I am uncertain as to what an ‘initiative strategy’ is; have I got it somewhere near right with my suggestion?

Editor’s response

Thank you very, very much for your kind and appreciative words about the Mahurangi Magazine.

Deconstructed to ‘initiative strategy’, the sense is somewhat lost. But whether Initiative Strategy would tend to be read separately from Mahurangi Initiative, is moot.

The sense of the word initiative, as in starting something, is arguably appropriate, at this very early stage of restoring the catchment. When the initiative has succeeded to the point that Mahurangi is synonymous with a restored and fully-enjoyed Mahurangi, Initiative can safely be dropped.

Meantime, because the initiative concept is also about enjoying the Mahurangi—e.g. developing walkways—the name needs to embrace more than policy for the environment.

Coincidentally, I had just re-styled the Mahurangi Magazine as:

Part of the Mahurangi Initiative: A network for the
restoration and enjoyment of the Mahurangi.

Does that much work, do you think?