Microspeak: Represent

Raymond Chen

The more conventional definition of represent is along the lines of “to act as a proxy for”. An attorney represents his or her client in court. Your legislator represents you in the assembly. A token on a board represents your position in the game.

At Microsoft, the word represent takes on a stranger meaning. Here are some usages inspired by actual sentences:

  • We need someone to represent this bug at the morning meeting.
  • Can somebody represent which OS versions are affected by this issue?

In the first case, I’m guessing that the word represent means “to act as an advocate for” or possibly just “to serve as a source of information on”.

In the second case, it appears that the word represent just means “tell us in an official capacity”.

These new senses may be influenced by rap lyrics and what is genteelly referred to as urban culture.

If somebody actually knows what the word “represent” means at Microsoft, please add a comment. I asked the person who made the second statement for a definition, but what came back was merely the “act as a proxy for” definition, which clearly doesn’t make sense. (How can a person act as a proxy for a list of operating systems?)


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