scalable maximize interface (used as a verb) "let's take this offline" paradigm shift out of the box solutions-oriented value-add game plan touch base moving forward go-forward basis synergy "we'll own Tuesdays/the colour red/the number 7/etc"
I think I'm becoming a curmudgeon. I've seen some really horrible business writing in presentations and memos recently, and I just want to give people a rap on the knuckles. Really, there's no excuse for it. We work in communications.
Henry over at Trends reminded me of this gem from George Orwell's famous 1945 essay "Politics and the English Language." Today these remain great rules for any memo or Powerpoint presentation. We should all memorize them.
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Orwell also offers these questions to ask while you're writing.
What am I trying to say?
What words will express it?
What image or idiom will make it clearer?
Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
Could I put it more shortly?
Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
Genius stuff (and now that I think about it, also not a bad formula for making an ad). If we could all follow that even ten percent of the time the world would be a better place.
Interesting article below on the most commonly used nouns in the English language. 'Time' and 'work' rank up there. 'Rest' and 'play' don't rank. And we call the way we live today 'progress'...
Time the most commonly used noun in English language 23 Jun 2006 Australian Associated Press General News (c) 2006 Australian Associated Press Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved
TIME By Valkerie Mangnall
LONDON, June 22 AAP - Time is the most commonly used noun in the English language, a study has found.
A survey by researchers at Oxford University Press revealed English speakers as a society of clock-watchers. Year features comes in at No.3 and day is fifth.
Oxford University Press English Dictionaries Department project manager Catherine Soanes suggested the list also had an all work and no play flavour. "I think it does reflect the way that time is so important in our society," Ms Soanes told Australian Associated Press
"It shows how much our lives are determined by work and time and things like that because we don't even have play or rest in the top 100 words." Work was No.16, week 17, government 20 and company 21. Ms Soanes also said the use of the word time in phrases like "one-time", "time after time", "last time" and "in time" had contributed to it being the most used noun."
The list appears as a supplement entitled "English Uncovered" in the Revised 11th Edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary released today. It was compiled from a survey of a database called the Oxford English Corpus, which contains one billion words. The corpus includes academic journals and on-line resources, Internet chatrooms and blogs, giving a broad picture of English language usage.
"It's a database of international English so it doesn't restrict it to British English," Ms Soanes said. "It's a reflection of English as a global language."
The word problem was 24th on the list, while solution was nowhere to be seen, and war was No.49 but peace failed to make it into the top 100. "It's a sort of reflection of our society in some ways," Ms Soanes said.
And could it be that it's a man's world? The word man was No.7, followed by child at No.12 and woman 14th. Ms Soanes said this could be explained by the fact that man was used in many common phrases such as mankind and was often used to mean people in general rather than identifying a specific gender.
The 100 most commonly used words - as opposed to most commonly used nouns - were functional, such as the, be and to.