Diplomats, politicians and business people have taken to salting their language with “going forward,” as if it means something. That useless phrase has crept out of official gobbledygook into general use, so that people work it into ordinary conversation, as if they were secretaries of state or CEOS. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred (statistic from a Rifftides staff study), the phrase adds no meaning, no understanding.
How does “Going forward, we will be discussing missile defense with the Russians” differ from “We will be discussing missile defense with the Russians?” There is no difference except for the meaningless presence of “Going forward.” Folks have been conditioned to believe that “going forward” is the equivalent of “in the future” or “from now on.” It is not. In English, we have verbs to do that kind of work. The phrase is almost always superfluous and annoying.
I would say that “going forward” is the new “upcoming” except that “upcoming” is as omnipresent as ever. Each morning, when the announcer on the local National Public Radio station says, “If you would like more information about those upcoming concerts…” I think about Harold Ross (1892-1951), the founding editor of The New Yorker. Ross issued a memo to his staff. It read,
“The next writer around here who uses ‘upcoming’ will be outgoing.”
This is not my first rant on this execrable usage, (see the Related item in the lower left corner of this page) nor is it likely to be the last.