jargon http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/7765/all en-US Lose the Gobbledygook and Say What You Mean http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/lose-the-gobbledygook-and-say-what-you-mean <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/lose-the-gobbledygook-in-business-and-say-what-you-mean" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/lose-the-gobbledygook...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/lose-the-gobbledygook-and-say-what-you-mean" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000005241825Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When did we stop talking and start reaching out? When did we start facilitating and stop helping? When did we start interfacing and stop meeting? Moreover, why?</p> <p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s touch base on Thursday to see how we might develop synergies to facilitate the branding team&rsquo;s launch.&rdquo;</p> <p>What&rsquo;s wrong with: &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s chat about how we can help Jim and Sarah&rdquo;?</p> <p>Wikipedia defines Gobbledygook as, &ldquo;any text containing jargon or especially convoluted English that results in it being excessively hard to understand or even incomprehensible.&rdquo;</p> <p>Or, to put it more simply, &ldquo;any text that&rsquo;s hard to understand because of jargon and obscure wording.&quot;</p> <h3>By the Numbers</h3> <p>Wikipedia&rsquo;s definition includes 20 words, 43 syllables, and 6 big words. According to WordsCount.info, a website that assigns a grade level to a piece of text based on, believe it or not, its SMOG index (short for Simple Measure of Gobbledygook), it would take a post-graduate to fully understand Wikipedia's definition.</p> <p>Mine, on the other hand has: 12 words, 21 syllables, 1 big word, and is written in a way that a 9th grader could understand.</p> <p>By way of calibration, the IRS code would stump even a PhD, Time Magazine could be understood by a 10th grader, and even a 6th grader could comprehend Soap Opera Weekly &mdash; though there must be something better to read.</p> <p>The big problem with gobbledygook is that it&rsquo;s contagious. It&rsquo;s like slipping into an English accent after you&rsquo;ve shared a pint with a Brit. Whether it&rsquo;s to impress the boss or just fit in, the whole corporate world seems to have caught the bug.</p> <p>Now I&rsquo;m not advocating that we dumb-down the world, but what if we all just said what we meant?</p> <h3>There Oughta Be a Law</h3> <p>Believe or not, as of October of last year, clear writing by federal workers isn&rsquo;t just a good idea, it&rsquo;s the law! While it somehow failed to make headlines, the Plain Writing Act of 2010 directs all federal agencies to not only write in plain English, but to teach their employees what it is and how to do it.</p> <p>If the bureaucrats in Washington can find a way to speak in plain English, surely there&rsquo;s hope for the rest of us.</p> <h3>And a Few Simple Rules</h3> <p>So, here are some tips to help you expunge the gobbledygook and write and speak more clearly.</p> <ul> <li>Avoid jargon. If your grandmother wouldn&rsquo;t understand, find another word.</li> <li>Unless you&rsquo;re writing/speaking to insiders, spell out or avoid acronyms.</li> <li>Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. <ul> <li>Bad: We are in possession of the information you require.</li> <li>Good: We have the data you requested.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Use active voice. <ul> <li>Bad: This has been sent to accounting for payment.</li> <li>Good: I have sent this to accounting for payment.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Write or speak for the average reader or listener.</li> <li>Organize your writing with headings, subheadings, and bullets.</li> <li>Be consistent in your use of past, present, and future tense.</li> <li>In general, avoid words that end in &lsquo;ly&rsquo;, &lsquo;ing&rsquo;, &lsquo;ful&rsquo;, &lsquo;ment&rsquo;, &lsquo;tion&rsquo;, &lsquo;ance&rsquo;. <ul> <li>Bad: It was an oversimplification of the situation.</li> <li>Good: It oversimplified the situation.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Avoid weak verbs. You&rsquo;ll know they&rsquo;re weak if you feel the need to add a word with &lsquo;ly&rsquo; to help them along. <ul> <li>Bad: She spoke softly.</li> <li>Good: She whispered.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Keep the subject, verb, and object close together in a sentence. <ul> <li>Bad: Jack, who was known for his jumping ability, cleared the candlestick effortlessly.</li> <li>Good: Jack jumped over the candlestick.</li> </ul> </li> <li>Use single syllable words: <ul> <li>so <i>instead of</i> accordingly</li> <li>clear <i>instead of</i> apparent</li> <li>use<i> instead of</i> utilize</li> <li>talk <i>instead of</i> converse</li> <li>need <i>instead of</i> require</li> <li>people <i>instead of</i> human resources</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <ul> <li>Avoid these words and phrases altogether: <ul> <li><i>bandwidth</i> (unless you&rsquo;re talking about computers)</li> <li><i>core competencies</i> (it could be the poster child for gobbledygook)</li> <li><i>dog and pony show</i> (unless pets and farm animals are actually involved)</li> <li><i>facetime</i> (another poster child candidate)</li> <li><i>front burner</i> (unless you&rsquo;re cooking)</li> <li><i>game-changing </i>(unless you&rsquo;re still playing PacMan)</li> <li><i>impacted</i> (unless you&rsquo;re referring to teeth)</li> <li><i>impactful</i> (just don&rsquo;t)</li> <li><i>in other words</i> (if you said it right, you wouldn&rsquo;t have to say this)</li> <li><i>interface</i> (unless you&rsquo;re referring to computers)</li> <li><i>leverage</i> (unless you&rsquo;re in construction or finance)</li> <li><i>moving forward</i> (unless you actually are)</li> <li><i>paradigm shift</i> (gag)</li> <li><i>procure</i> (stilted)</li> <li><i>reach out</i> (oh please, just call me)</li> <li><i>shall</i> (unless you&rsquo;re stuffy, or a lawyer, or both)</li> <li><i>team</i> (unless you&rsquo;re talking about sports)</li> <li><i>traction</i> (unless it&rsquo;s icy out or you&rsquo;re a doctor)</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p>And finally, the most important rule of all: less is more. Eliminate all unnecessary words. Seventeenth Century mathematician Blaise Pascal closed a letter to his girlfriend with, &quot;I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.&quot; Let's all be a little more considerate of other peoples' time and take some time ourselves to write clearly and directly.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-lister">Kate Lister</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/lose-the-gobbledygook-and-say-what-you-mean">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stupid-things-to-put-in-your-cover-letter">Stupid Things to Put in Your Cover Letter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-improve-your-decision-making-skills">10 Ways to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center communication skills jargon small business writing writing advice writing skills Fri, 06 May 2011 22:55:48 +0000 Kate Lister 532485 at http://www.wisebread.com Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4246596939_2c94792698.jpg" alt="Free and other fakeries" title="signs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As an advertising professional, I have often had to use phrases and headlines that stretched the truth a little. Sometimes, a lot. I have never lied, unless it was blatant for the sake of humor (beer so strong, the bar prices are in Braille). But I have most definitely have been &quot;asked&quot; to use some techniques that drew a fog over what is true and what is legally acceptable. These are terms used to deceive and mislead. And now, I'm featuring some of the most popular ones here.</p> <p>Watch out for these. If they're being used, you should think hard about your purchase or do a lot more research. </p> <h3>&quot;Never pay for a covered repair again&quot;</h3> <p>I see and hear this one a lot in insurance commercials. Lately, it has been used in a commercial offering extended warranties on cars. And it is used in such a way that you think &quot;Oh great, no more repair bills, I'm covered.&quot; Well, I'm afraid not. The key word here is &quot;covered,&quot; and it renders the whole phrase useless. See, they don't tell you in the ad what is and is not covered. For all you know, the only repair that is covered is when the engine turns itself into a bowl of banana pudding. Saying you'll &quot;never pay for a covered repair again&quot; is like saying your umbrella will &quot;keep you dry on the sunniest day.&quot; Well duh, of course it will. A covered repair, well, it's covered. Of course you don't pay for it. But WHAT is covered? Is anything covered that is actually important? Find out before you buy an insurance policy or warranty that has more holes in it than 100 lbs. of Swiss cheese.</p> <h3>&quot;Compare at $XX&quot;</h3> <p>Is there a more underhanded phrase in the advertising world? I don't think so. Do you know what this means? Well, it does not mean that this product was once $60 and is now $15. Not even close. It means that someone, usually an &quot;expert&quot; working for said company, thinks that this product or service may be worth that amount of money, or is comparable to other products selling at that higher price. It's used in infomercials a lot. &quot;Buy this frying pan for $20, compare at $80!&quot; It does not mean you're saving $60, it just means that someone, somewhere, thinks that the pan is similar to another pan that could have sold for $80. It's like putting an ad on Craigslist for your crappy old sweater and saying &quot;compare at $100.&quot; It's a self-valuation, and therefore, meaningless.</p> <h3>&quot;Buy 10 for $10&quot;</h3> <p>It could be any variation of items for dollars, but the sign is misleading 99% of the time. Very, very rarely do you actually have to buy 10 items to get them for $1 each. They will simply ring up as $1 at the register, whether you buy four or five or even nine. The store is employing a simple tactic of misdirection. They want you focusing on picking out ten items rather than daring to buy just a few. And most of the time, as robotic consumers, we do what we're told and buy ten packets of rice or bottles of soda. If you do happen to buy a few, and they ring up as more expensive, just keep your eagle eye on the register and let the checkout person know you have decided against those items. But that happens once in a blue moon.</p> <h3>&quot;Free trial&quot; and &quot;Risk-free trial&quot;</h3> <p>Let's start with free trial. Most of the time, the free trial comes with a time period, after which you start paying for the service. For instance, a two-week free trial subscription to a newspaper, after which the credit card you provided will start getting dinged, automatically, for a certain amount of money. This is often called a &quot;passive subscription.&quot; You do nothing; you start paying. You have to actively call and cancel to opt out of the full subscription before the trial ends, and that's when you get hit with &quot;save sale&quot; scripts and hard-sell techniques. Free trials may give you something free, but you are giving the manufacturer your personal information and credit card info, which is just as valuable to them as the product you get for nothing.</p> <p>Now, moving on from the free, to the risk-free. What does that mean? This time, you're basically being told that if you buy something and you don't like it, then you can return it &quot;risk-free.&quot; But be careful. Even though they say there's no risk, you're in muddy legal waters. There may be restocking fees, or you may have to jump through many hoops to get your money back. And you may have to wait quite a long time to see it. I usually stay away from any kind of trial unless it is a genuine free trial that requires no money up front.</p> <h3>&quot;Just pay shipping and handling&quot;</h3> <p>Again, another landmine you need to dodge. That phrase is loaded. No legitimate business can turn a profit by giving away product and only asking you to pay for postage. In these instances, which often accompany the free trial, you are paying for S&amp;H up front with a credit card, and that information will be used to charge you for something else later on.</p> <h3>&quot;BOGO&quot;</h3> <p>&nbsp;Once upon a time, BOGO stood for Buy One, Get One free. Simple enough. Then, BOGO stood for Buy One, Get One 50% off. Now, BOGO can stand for almost anything. I&rsquo;ve seen Buy One, Get One for $50; Buy One, Get One 20% off; and even this &mdash; BOGO* (Buy One, Get One 50% off by mail-in rebate!). Marketers love to use handy phrases that are well-known to consumers, and this is another good example. We all think we know what BOGO means, but it&rsquo;s not a legal term, so it can stand for anything. Just keep your eyes wide open when you see a big BOGO sign &mdash; it may not be what it appears.</p> <h3>&quot;Free*&quot;</h3> <p>Ahhh, the asterisk. It's the marketer's friend and the consumer's enemy. You can hide a wealth of sketchy terms and conditions and nasty little &quot;out&quot; clauses behind the asterisk. For instance, in this case Free* could be followed by: &quot;*Offer only available to residents of Alaska aged between 49-52 with a surname that begins with Z.&quot; Ok, extreme example, but I've seen similar exclusions. Sometimes it's only free if you buy another item of equal or greater value, which is back to the BOGO language. Sometimes it's free if you jump through hundreds of hoops and buy other products. Occasionally, rarely, it's actually free. But the asterisk does mean someone, somewhere, is missing out. The asterisk has taken a powerful word like free and made it about as trustworthy as a grandma with big eyes, big ears, and very big teeth.</p> <p><em>Know any other terms that trick you up? Let other Wise Bread readers know.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-misleading-gadget-marketing-gimmicks">8 Misleading Gadget Marketing Gimmicks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/big-list-of-senior-discounts">Big List of Senior Discounts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-products-that-cost-more-for-women-than-for-men">6 Products That Cost More for Women Than for Men</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-stuff-i-try-never-to-buy-new">The stuff I try never to buy new</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/90-off-is-not-a-deal-if-you-don-t-need-it">90% off is not a deal if you don’t need it.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping advertising bargains jargon marketing Thu, 04 Nov 2010 13:00:08 +0000 Paul Michael 279684 at http://www.wisebread.com