Two words that need to go under

Should I blame journalists for the overuse of these two awful words: ‘undertake’ and ‘undergo’? They’re in news headlines and TV news stories every day. But they’re also lurking on the web. Here’s how to avoid using them in your online content.

‘Undertake’ and ‘undergo’ sound stiff and formal

They litter newspaper headlines and articles:

‘BHP to undertake study of rockfall mine’

‘Optus to undertake major network upgrade’

I hear them on the evening news program almost every night:

‘[some football player] will undergo tests to see if he has a stress fracture … ‘

‘[some poor victim of crime] will undergo surgery … ‘

And of course, they’re never far from a politician’s lips:

‘There are an enormous number of functions which ministers undertake, and which I undertake, which people don’t pay to attend.’

Government websites are crawling with them:

‘It is a requirement under s. 36 of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 that organisations undertake or arrange an assessment of an injured worker’s capability to undertake a rehabilitation program.’

‘b. agree to undergo a security clearance and civil records check;
c. undergo an enlistment medical and be classified Class One;
d. undergo psychological testing/assessment;
e. undergo Recruiting Officer (RO) assessment;’

And our university websites wouldn’t want to be left out:

‘Many high-achieving students elect to undertake a research degree … ‘

‘The Menzies Building is about to undergo a dramatic facelift’

What’s wrong with ordinary words?

Why can’t people, organisations or politicians ‘do’,  ‘have’ or ‘go to’ things rather than ‘undertake’ or ‘undergo’ them?

What’s wrong with ordinary words?  Do they lack the syllables that make their writers or speakers feel smart?

Why can’t  ‘BHP study rockfall at mine’? What’s wrong with ‘Optus upgrades network’? Footballers and victims of crime can still ‘have’ tests or surgery, and politicians could ‘go to’ functions (as long as it’s not on my taxpaying dollar).

High achieving students could ‘study’ or ‘enrol in a research degree’, and the Menzies building could ‘have a dramatic facelift’—it certainly needs one!

Why do we have to undergo the torture of such crusty writing?  I want an undertaking that only undertakers use the word.  The rest of us should just write in with ordinary words, surely?