Managers and Clerks

Yesterday, I blogged about Permanent Secretaries. Today I will blog on the more mundane job but as equally important jobs that we do on a daily basis. When you were younger, your parents must have hoped and prayed that you become a manager or the equivalent of one at some point in your career. I think that's pretty much standard Asian thinking. Managers are good and anything less than one is not good.

However if one was to study the origin of the two words - managers and clerks and other jobs in between, you would rather not be a manager. The word Manager originally means "a horse trainer who used his hand" for manage is from the Italian word "managiare" (to train horses) which is based on the Latin word "mano" for hand. A manager in its early form is not the manager we envisaged today. The job title transformed over the years from looking after horses into looking after offices and from using your hands into using your head.

But the word clerk on the other hand actually refers to one who uses his head (as opposed to the manager who used his hand). The word clerk is derived from the Latin word "clerius" which means clergyman or scholor - that is a person who handles viatal records. You would actually be surprised to find certain important jobs even today in the Brunei Government uses the word Clerk. The most important one is the "Clerk of Council" translated as Jurutulis is the person who manages and administers the Legislative Council. He is the one that makes sure the Council runs and assists the Speaker of the Council. Another important Clerk is the "Clerk of Works" which is the person who looks after big important projects in Public works Department.

How about Secretary? The word Secretary is again derived from the Latin word "secretarius" which means "keeper of secrets". That's why the keeper of secrets in the Brunei Government service are called Confidential Secretary and Confidential Clerk and in the private sector, we even have the Executive Secretary. By that logic Permanent Secretaries are just permanent keepers of secrets!

Another important post is the stenographer. Stenographer combines the word "steno" which means compact and "grapho" which means write - that is a compact writer who takes down dictation in shortform, somene at arm's length to counteract the manager's long hand. Unfortunately all the stenographer jobs in the government service has been abolished and replaced by Assistant Confidential Clerk.

If your parents ever bugged you about being Managers when you graduate, offer them this blog instead.


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