It’s about the message, not your ego


Written English is going through a very peculiar stage.

At a time when social media demands are for shorter, simpler language, messages are being hidden by clutter.  There’s too many unnecessary and overused adverbs and adjectives that add nothing to understanding.  They seem to be used to add impact or importance, but achieve just the opposite.  In fact, some of them are so overused as to be meaningless and off-putting.

Writers being “proud” – as in “I’m proud to be part of this great team” – doesn’t add anything to the point that the writer is apparently trying to get through – presumably that the team has been successful in some way.  In this example who cares? Except the author.  It is a case of what is important to the writer, overriding what is the news value.

This often happens when ego gets in the way – it’s all about “me being proud” becoming the subject rather than the worthy achievement of an organisation, team or someone else.

And some descriptions have been overused so much they have become meaningless.

Every other commentator who talks about a large amount seems to feel obligated to call it “eye watering”.  Surely a company loss of $100 million (for instance) speaks for itself, as does a bonus in the millions, and adjectives aren’t needed – especially tired, over-used ones.

It’s the same with weather forecasters talking about “a chilly 8 degrees overnight”.  Surely we all know by now that 8 degrees means put on another blanket without being told it’s chilly.

Another unnecessary word is obviously.  It’s often used in a patronising way (while it’s obvious to me it may not be to you) and if it’s obvious, why say it at all?

In the past we’ve used the example of a simple new appointment press release to show how trying to make a statement more important or interesting with padding, only gets in the way of the facts and makes what could be an easy to use, punchy release, end up in the too hard bin.

What makes the point best – “Jo Blow has been appointed to lead its business development team of Company Name” or “Highly respected fund manager Company Name is delighted to announce the appointment of well-known industry expert Jo Blow to lead its sector leading business development team”?

Which has more impact?  The second needs twice as many words to say the same thing.

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