Thursday, February 28, 2008

You've pissed me off.

Dear Creative People:

It is important to speak and write in clear, concise English.
It can be colloquial, it can be profane, but it can't be sloppy.

We cannot use the word "robust" to describe every web site and every experience.
Robust is a cliche and means nothing because people do not hear cliches.
Their overuse means they wash over us like toxic sludge pouring from an unregulated defense contractor's factory.

You cannot modify the word "unique." Stop doing it.
Stop saying "somewhat unique," "very unique," "really unique."
Unique is an absolute. It means "single, sole or having no equal."
Therefore it cannot be modified.
Just as a sports fan can't say "We're the most number 1!," you can't say this is
"most unique."

Remove every word from everything you write that doesn't need to be there.
Extraneous words do not make you look smart.
They make your presentation or copy labored, boring and self-conscious.

Finally, read this:

It's an article titled "Lazy Language, Lazy Thought."
I particularly liked this paragraph:
"Anyone trying to impress, to sell or to obfuscate is likely to brutalise the language. Prominent offenders are businessmen, with their on-board customer-service representatives, collision damage waivers, non-incremental growth opportunities and enhanced information-management activities, providing innovative solutions and significant leverage in the use of resources, and thus permitting an increasing percentage of senior professional time to be expended on value-added solutions."

Language should be alive, fun, vibrant.
It shouldn't be flaccid and dumb.


Tore Claesson said...

Can some cups be emptier than others?

newfriendjill said...

Wow. I could never work for you. Advertising has made me so lazy I barely even remember what AP stands for. That said, I believe "You've pissed me off" ends with a big, fat preposition.

george tannenbaum said...

come work for me.