Wednesday, March 23, 2022

10 words I will never use.

Some years ago, I read a book by an English World War II codebreaker who worked at the famous Bletchley Park complex. His name was Leo Marks and you can order his book here.

Marks was a prodigy when he went to work for 
Bletchley Park. I think he was barely out of high school or whatever they call it in England--bangers and mash or something. And like a lot of prodigies, Marks was a both polymath--brilliant at many things--and disruptive to normative behavior.

When Marks interviewed at Bletchley Park and was asked what his interests were, he replied "Incunabula and fornication." In my mind that is perhaps the greatest reply to perhaps any question ever asked.

A confession: when I read "Between Silk and Cyanide" I didn't know what incunabula was. (The printing of books and/or pamphlets before 1500.) But I quickly learned and remembered it. In fact, I use it today on my Linked In profile.

The point of this post is not, sadly, incunabula. 

It's about using language unusually so that you stand out and get noticed. Marks wasn't using incunabula to confuse people. He was using a rare word to show what a rare bird he was. 

That's a lot of what we're supposed to be doing when we write--whether it's for ourselves or the brands we represent. We're supposed to be different, original, unlike the ordinary. That's how you, and brands, can stand out in a crowded world. 

That's why, unless tortured, I will never use any of the words or phrases below.

1. Target. Please no. We are people and unless you're planning to assassinate someone, please no targetting.

2. Transparency. I'm 64-years old and never heard the word with regards to anything but Saran Wrap until I was 58. I prefer the word "honesty." Because it's on/off. Meaning you're either honest or not. Whereas you can be transparent and still be a lying motherfucker.

3. Robust. Find a different word: potent, deep, strong. People use robust so often it's lost all meaning.

4. Agile. Same as above. Unless you're a Romanian gymnast, you're not agile.

5. Creator. I had that reserved--regardless of religion--for deities. Us mortals aren't creators, we create and tinker. And we're wrong as often as we're right--if we're lucky.

6. Any discussion of the Oxford comma. I couldn't care less.

7. Metaverse. Right now, the whateververse is a castle in the sky. It ain't built and it probably never will be. I'll refrain talking about it until it's real.

BTW, the Metaverse reminds me of the advertising joke about a 72-year-old woman who dies and goes before St. Peter. He looks over her papers and says "I see you were married for 44 years and are still a virgin. How can that be?" And she replies, "Well, my husband was in advertising. Every night he'd sit on the side of the bed and tell me how great it was going to be."

8. Bandwith and scope. I am a human and those are machine words. I prefer to embrace, not deny, my humanness.

9. Call to Action. Would any words impel you to do anything if the entirety of the communication didn't make you want to act? No one in the history of the world has clicked a "learn more" button because of the "call" of those words.

10. Soft Launch. A soft launch is no launch. Can you imagine Robert Goddard or Werner Von Braun or Kim Jong Il soft- launching a missile? 

There are many more.

But that's all I have right now.

I'm all out of bandwidth.

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