Re: Words that should never be uttered or documented...

Subject: Re: Words that should never be uttered or documented...
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 2002 13:45:12 -0700 (PDT)

Mandy Williams wrote:

This brings to mind a book called "Junk English" by Ken Smith. I haven't
read the book yet, but I heard a lecture by the author. He talks about how we use inflated phrases or euphemisms, particularly in business, to the detriment of straightforward, honest communication, and he provides a bunch of categories for different types of "junk english." One example he used that sticks in my mind is the rampant use of the word "issues" to replace "problems." Hm, I believe there was recently a related discussion on the list...

That book sounds interesting. I'll have to give it a read when I get done with the stack of books I have on my to-read list.....

I'd be interestd in the reasons for such inflated speach. Using inflated speach in a business environment seems to be serving several purposes:

* Provides liability - if you're just stringing together a bunch of words that communicate no real information, you can't be sued for promising a product will do something that it doesn't

* Disarms customers - big vocabularies are often used to disarm people. No one wants to look stupid, so no one would question the meaning of what the salesman/marketer is saying. So, marketers can get away with something like "community interaction enhancement specialty solution" because no one is going to ask for an explanation of what that means and risk looking dumb. Luckily for me, most of the time, I don't have that problem. :-) (_Worrying_ about looking dumb that is.....)

* big words = impressive - Sorry to say, but many people take big words as a sign of intelligence and authority. (Although, Tevye did sing that when you're a rich man people automatically assume you know what you're talking about, simply because you're rich.)

* hides the truth - You can mask what's really going on by a few choice words that are technical correct, but not truthful....sort of the opposite of what technical writers want to do......

Ah, language. Ain't it grand!

Sean Hower - tech writer

"Whatever you do, do NOT let your editorial decisions be made by the squiggly spell-checking lines in Word!" ~Keith Cronin, Techwr-l irritant ;-)

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