Monday, March 30, 2015

More on Words

A few times in the past I've commented on the words people use to sell us things or to sound more impressive.

Just a few weeks ago in Tell It Like It Is, I mentioned a few business terms, like associates and team members instead of employees.  They say guests instead of customers.  Actions often don't live out the promise of the new terminology.

Back in January 2014 in Words, Words, Words, I explained the distinction between:  eager and anxious, less and fewer.  I complained about the loose usage of literally and how awesome has become the adjective for everyone who doesn't want to spend any time or effort to describe an experience accurately. The message was that thoughtful people choose the right word.

Likewise, way back in October 2011 in Words People Use, I warned about the use of words to make us think in a particular way, sort of propaganda-lite, used in advertising.  One example was how the word "home" has replaced the word "house" allowing realtors to sell something warm and inviting instead of just a structure to store your furniture and spend the evening in.  It has caught on to the point where even abandoned buildings (of the right size and location) are referred to as homes.

By now it should be clear that I think words are important to communications and that I am sensitive to the words chosen by politicians, the media and advertisers.  Imagine my surprise when I heard on a newscast the comment of the local sheriff when he learned about a new state law requiring more criminals to be housed in county facilities rather than in state prisons: "We don't have enough staff to increase the number of clients at the jail."  Clients?!  At least they're not calling them guests - yet.

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