The tyranny of non-words

I loathe and revile vague words. I am also not that keen on press releases (too often a substitute, not a vehicle, for a message). So this piece by Tim Phillips brought me much pleasure.

“Vague non-words like significant and substantial look like they’re telling us something, but they aren’t. They’re useful for people who have a deadline but no clear idea what they’re writing about; or people who know the numbers, don’t want to tell us what they are, but want to waste our time anyway because that’s what they’re paid to do. Often they are paid by the word, so chucking in a “substantial” here and there is basically free money.”


One Response to The tyranny of non-words

  1. I have made similar observations, e.g. in Idiocies of ad writing, with the bottom-line statement “when the cliches that could be used for any related product and the unnecessary fill-words are thrown out, the text can be reduced to more or less nothing”.

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