A Which? survey finds 57% of borrowers are encouraged to take out further loans, while a third say they experienced greater financial problems as a result of taking out the loan. Read the Guardian Money article here.
Archive for May, 2012
Who knew there was a name for misheard song lyrics? And what on earth is ‘muntin’? Find out here.
Will you re-mode during the olympics? Ministers are using jargon that sounds like it’s straight out of an episode of The Think of IT. Click here to read the BBC article.
Legend has it that the advertising guru Sir John Hegarty once requested a screensaver for his employees that read: “Words are a barrier to communication.” It’s a brilliant provocation – especially if, like me, you’re a lover of words.
It’s also a thought that many businesses could learn from. Take a selection of organisations and wander around their websites. Read their brochures and their case studies and even have a look around their buildings. Words. Everywhere. Sometimes on the walls. Lots of the same, unsurprising words hanging about like boring guests at a party. So many words: so little to say.
“Engagement”, “stakeholders”, “sustainability”, “passionate”, “delivery”, “value”, “commitment”, “vision”, “empowerment”, “benchmark”, “collaborative”, “innovation”, “performance”, “challenging”, “leadership”. To concoct your own corporate rhetoric, simply take a handful, season with a few pronouns, conjunctions and definite and indefinite articles. Stir and leave to stagnate.
In the truest sense of ‘cliché’, these words are worn out. They may have once been bold and spiky but their power has been diminished by overuse. And when something is overfamiliar and bland, we ignore it, like lift music. If a written word neither commands our attention, nor conveys meaning, it’s pointless. It’s just a black squiggle.
This is about more than keeping language fresh and interesting. It’s about remembering that actions speak louder than words. Putting platitudes and clichés on walls and websites is a placebo: it feels like we’re changing the world when we aren’t. We become content with saying and not doing. Worse than that, we’re not even saying anything of value. When we surround ourselves with cant and cliché, we’re surrounding ourselves with moribund ideas. It’s a form of intellectual laziness that George Orwell brilliantly observed in his 1946 essay, Politics and The English Language: “…the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”
In 1956, a man wrote a children’s story in just 10 sentences. It made such an impression that when that man died over 50 years later it made the national news.