Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

Vocabuteria: tranche


I hear this word once in a while. I want to use it without sounding pretentious. I’m not sure that’s possible. But let’s look at it. There’s a thud to “tranche.” It lands like a heavy load of books on a desk. It also reminds me of a muscular, thick-headed fantasy creature, like the Hulk but almost brainless. Or maybe a soldier in an army of monstrous automatons, programmed to ransack the universe. “My god! The tranches are flooding over the hill!” Yet “tranche” has elegantly migrated from France. Wikipedia says that it means, in French, “‘slice’, ‘section’, ‘series’, or ‘portion’.” One imagines a tranche of quiche or apple flan or rabbit pie. Unfortunately, “tranche” has been kidnapped by the financial industry. I hate when that happens. These days, says Investopedia (yes, there is an Investopedia), a tranche is “debt or securities designed to divide risk or group characteristics in order to be marketable to different investors. Each portion, or tranche, is one of several related securities offered at the same time but with varying risks, rewards and maturities to appeal to a diverse range of investors.” Ugh. So, lamentably, aggressively attired Type-A people rushing through life in pursuit of vast fortunes, possibly at the expense of the rest of us, are now the ones most likely to be heard using “tranche,” as if they own it.

I prefer this, from a stimulating article in The Atlantic:

I am devoted to my job. I feel most myself when I am fulfilled by my work—including the work of writing an essay about work. My sense of identity is so bound up in my job, my sense of accomplishment, and my feeling of productivity that bouts of writer’s block can send me into an existential funk that can spill over into every part of my life. And I know enough writers, tech workers, marketers, artists, and entrepreneurs to know that my affliction is common, especially within a certain tranche of the white-collar workforce.

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable
Derek Thompson
The Atlantic
Feb 24, 2019


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