Thursday, April 22, 2010

Yet Another Disliked Word

Co-worker is way too bureaucratic/corporate for me. I work with people, they work with me. Do we “co-work?” No we don’t. “What’d you do for lunch today?” How would you answer the question? “My co-worker and I had lunch together” or “I ate lunch with a guy I work with.” (Yeah, I know, the second response should read …with whom I work.) If you choose the first response, chances are you work for the government or a big corporation; and, you’ve surely worked there too long.

I suspect the word was coined by some HR person, probably employed by a school system that wanted gender-neutral nouns in the employee manual. That’s enough right there to justify its banishment.

Where would unions be today if their organizers had shouted “co-workers unite!” way back then? Well, maybe that’s a bad example.

Indulge me, stop it!


Annie K said...

Also, we should eliminate all pronouns, or words that serve the same purpose as pronouns. Efficiency is just another word for laziness.

Anonymous said...

Well, you could just call your friend by name and avoid that whole can of worms.

But you stepped into one of my pet peeves: HR, Human Resources. Coal is a "resource," lumber is a "resource;" people are not. I think things really went south for workers when they stopped calling it "Personnel" and reduced human beings to being just another "resource."

Dave said...

Wow Annie, you're more of a curmudgeon than I am.

Thomas, while we're at it we should probably bar the use of the word human except in a context where it is compared with another species.

Annie K said...

Incidentally, curmudgeon is one of my favorite words.

Jeni said...

Hmmm. Never really thought of the word "Co-worker" in that fashion. Always thought during my employment time that those I worked with, even for, were just that -"Co-workers." Different from me in someways depending on their position or status within our employment arena but none-the-less, my "Co-workers" anyway. We were all there for a similar purpose so, yes -workers and "co" because we were joined together in that aspect. Just my thoughts -which, by the way, are just random things today.

Bill the Engineer said...

It was laziness that caused me to use the offending noun, but I could not come up with an alternative in a short amount of time. "Friends", "boss" or "employees" was not accurate. But, I will not use it again, especially when we are out with our co-friends.

Dave said...


It's a legit word, just one of my peeves.

Co-friends huh? I thought Engineers had no sense of humor.

The Curmudgeon said...

"Colleague" is too snooty sounding and "fellow laborer in the vineyard" takes too long to type and is too Biblical for some. "Comrade" is subject to misinterpretation.

But you make a good point. I still have a couple of dependents -- but they are not co-dependents to each other. At least, I don't think so.

Oh, and one more thing: Gosh, Annie... thanks!

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

How do you feel about "colleague?"

For me, it gets trickier because several of my colleagues are also friends. So when I have the fortune of quoting one of them at a cocktail party or something, I'm always at a loss for what the correct label for them might be. I have to choose one or the other and there is always that slight hitch in my speech right before whichever one I choose.

And inevitably whichever one I choose comes out sounding inadequate.