Explanation of departmental phraseology

The Unofficial Australian Office Humour Book, p.18.

Have you ever got the runaround by a Government Department for what seems like a simple matter? Do you ever wonder why a basic decision by a public servant which should take about 5 minutes actually stretches out to 6 months or more?

Perhaps the key to understanding all this bureaucratic red tape may lie in how we should interpret the phrases public servants use everyday as the following explanation of department phraseology suggests. By understanding how public servants communicate, we may appreciate what is really happening here:


YOUR ENQUIRY IS BEING LOOKED INTO

We haven't even read your letter.


WE WILL LOOK INTO THE PROBLEM

Give it a couple of weeks and we hope you'll forget about the whole thing.


WE WILL ADVISE YOU IN DUE COURSE

Once we have some idea of what we are talking about, we'll let you know.


WE ARE AWARE OF THE SITUATION

We have lost the file.


THE MATTER IS UNDER CONSIDERATION

We've never even heard of it.


THE MATTER IS UNDER URGENT CONSIDERATION

We are looking in the rubbish bin for your letter.


WE ARE UNDERTAKING A STUDY

We need another month to think of an excuse.


I THINK WE CAN WORK TOGETHER ON THIS

When you've worked out what the problem is we hope you'll let us know.


PLEASE NOTE AND INITIAL

It's not my problem now.


PLEASE GIVE US YOUR INTERPRETATION

We've already made our decision so your opinion is worth bugger-all!


LET US DISCUSS THE MATTER FURTHER

I'll meet you down the pub.


Would this help to clarify how we should interpret the words of public servants when they say something, but they really mean something else?