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World's longest job title revealed


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Words meant to impress will often have workers reaching for the dictionary.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- If your company employs an "optical illuminator enhancer" to clean the windows, or you have a "director of first impressions" working on reception, then it might be time for some straight talking in the office.

Job titles have always been dressed up or embellished to make them sound more exciting, glamorous or important than they really are.

According to a survey two years ago in the UK, seven out of 10 workers said they would prefer a grander sounding job title to a pay rise.

But soon someone working for a northern English library service will be able to claim that they have what is perhaps the world's longest job title.

In an advertisement published this week, Lancashire County Council invited applications for the post of "temporary part-time libraries North-West inter-library loan business unit administration assistant."

According to the Plain English Campaign, which promotes the use of simple, understandable language, the position beats the previous record set by an advert six years ago for "part-time healthcare team foot health gain facilitators."

Not all companies take such a rigidly formal approach to titles. Ben & Jerry's, the U.S. ice cream firm, lets its staff choose their own, with the consequence that it now employs the "Grand Poobah of the Joy Gang" and the "Primal Ice Cream Therapist."

And Jeff Taylor, the head of international recruitment firm Monster, prefers to be addressed formally by the title "Chief Monster."

But Plain English Campaign spokesman John Lister told CNN that opaque job titles were symptomatic of a toleration of impenetrable language in the workplace.

"A problem with a lot of job titles is that people focus on where the person will fit in, rather than concentrating on what the person is actually going to be doing," said Lister

"The office is where people feel the need to concentrate more on their image and how they come across rather than getting their message across.

"Also within a lot of organizations you have a lot of different levels of bureaucracy and hierarchy and that makes the problem of communication worse."

English may not be the only language in which meaning occasionally gets lost in a blizzard of words. But Lister said its adoption as the international language of business made the need to make it as plain and simple as possible more important then ever.

"When you have people using a second language or if you're translating material it can very easily be misinterpreted," he warned, pointing out that nuances and metaphors such as sporting analogies can often be lost, or misunderstood, in translation.

As well as being confusing, over-complicated language can also be bad for business. Korean Airlines handed a lucrative contract to build flight simulators to a French company because its employees spoke a simpler and more intelligible English than their counterparts at a British rival.

Lister said that companies could save time and money by changing their staff's approach to language.

"Managers in particular can help the cause by fostering a culture where the use of words to impress rather than inform isn't rewarded," he said.

"And also by putting across the point that communicating clearly is a good thing that saves time and money for the company.

"Start with very plain English making the point you are trying to put across and then dress it up if necessary to make it more formal or professional. Start with the point and the meaning and then move onto the words rather than the other way round."


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