Grammar Q: concerning "concerning"

I’ve been noticing a new business-speaky use of “concerning” at work recently, and it’s driving me crazy. It is as though everyone thinks they’re using good grammar, yet I think not.

They’re using “concerning” to describe something “that is of concern,” i.e. that should cause anxiety or worry. Some examples:

“…safety focus remains concerning.”

“…they have not replied, and that is somewhat concerning.”

“…I find that problem concerning.”

Any opinions on whether this is now accepted use? Anybody else find it concerning? I’m willing and ready to start mocking co-workers if it’s judged mock-worthy by the SDMB collective… but our plant manager just sent out a letter with one of those clunkers in it, so the collective had better let me know quick what the consensus is.

I don’t think it’s a terribly new usage; the OED has it in that sense from 1649. I certainly see no problem with it.

Ew, I don’t like it. I see it in the OED but I haven’t heard it used that way very frequently, if at all. “Safety measures remain of concern” sounds more likely.

I wait unhappily for it to make its way into our company-speak.

If I were grading papers (which, thank God, I haven’t had to do since 1990), I would mark the first one as something that needed revision. It’s elliptical, which is not inherently wrong, and it’s passive, which is not inherently wrong, but it’s just too far removed from what is actually being said (which I take to be “… safety focus remains something which concerns me [or us or whoever the speaker is supposed to be or represent]”) for my ears: it sounds like part of the sentence got lost ("… safety focus remains concerning the anti-lock brakes."). The problem is too many words which can be both nouns and verbs strung together: focus, remains, concern[ing]. I see this all the time in badly written headlines.

The other two are okay to me, FWIW.

And just got back from another meeting where “recent safety incidents [were] becoming concerning.” Ugh.

1649, eh? That in itself may be ammo to kill this; business-speak is supposed to be edgy and new. Not so much current slang among the Amish and Mennonites. I’ll have to start pointing out how old timey that turn of phrase is…

Are you quite sure that it is business-speak, and not a perfectly ordinary turn of phrase that you simply haven’t noticed before now? :dubious:

All three sentences sound odd to me; I don’t recall ever hearing the word used that way.

I find the usage quite grating, and am certain it’s not that I simply haven’t noticed it before; I do notice these things. They bug. Yes, I have issues, but that’s a completely different thread.

I think it’s a good hypothesis that it’s new business-speak, because (1) all the people whom I’ve heard use it, are terrible adopters of business-speak, and (2) they’ve all suddenly started using it over the last few months, together. If it looks and smells like group-think, I don’t suspect it’s really ducks.

Plus, it allows me to feel a little superior at my reasons for looking down my nose at them. More importantly, it’s an excellent excuse to bust their chops. I’ve got one buddy whom I’ve almost got trained so he doesn’t use “actualize” as though it were a word worthy of showing its face in public; don’t want him backsliding by picking up something concerning.

Although not the typical usage, it sounds fine to me. I understand it well and it’s not grating.

As an editor, I wouldn’t allow that construction (in any form) in my publication. It is odd, awkward, and passive. I also wouldn’t be happy about more ordinary alternatives such as “it remains a matter of concern,” because they’re also passive. Let’s just come out and say who’s concerned or should be. “The committee is concerned about the safety issues.”

The first one sounds very wrong to me, but the other two look okay.