‘Relanguage’ and Other Dumb Buzzwords

Have you heard of BuzzWhack? It’s a site “dedicated to de-mystifying buzzwords.”

You can sign up for the buzzword of the day. Some are really funny. And some are just plain dumb. Following is an example of a dumb buzzword. (Actually, it’s not even a word.)

Term used by $300-an-hour consultants when $1 words such as reword, rephrase or rewrite would work just as well. “I think we can relanguage that to be more effective.”

If you’re a writer, you should consider the above job security.


This Writer Faces a New Young Audience

I will soon face a new audience, a group with short attention spans and fairly diverse interests. No, they’re not time-strapped business types surfing the Internet or skimming trade magazines. I’m speaking of third-graders, my daughter’s class at Floyd Elementary.

Today when I dropped by the school for the monthly Dining with Dads lunch time, my daughter’s teacher stopped me in the hall.

“Would you consider coming to our class and talking about writing?” she asked. “You can come anytime and talk about whatever you like.”

“Sure,” I said.

During lunch in the cafeteria, I asked my daughter if she liked the idea of me visiting her class. She nodded.

What will I tell 20 third-graders about writing? I’m not sure yet, but I have a few ideas. I believe this will be a series of visits. Think in campaigns and series, one creative director always told me.

I’m also open to your ideas. Feel free to offer your thoughts and comments.

5 Tips for Finding the Right Words

Finding the right words or word. This is the challenge for all who write to inform and persuade. While I have yet to discover a magic formula, I do have a few ideas on the subject. Following are five reliable tips.

1. Avoid clichés.
Cliché-laden copy lacks originality and spark. Clichés are other people’s words, not your own.

2. Rewrite.
It has been said many times that “writing is rewriting.” Seldom does one draft the perfect headline, script, article, or Web page. Get it down, then work on it. And then work on it some more.

3. Edit.
Here’s a secret: Finding the right words or word is often eliminating the extraneous. A good default is to simplify, clarify and cut copy. You can always add or change a word later.

4. Use a thesaurus.
In English, there are lots of words to choose from. So brighten up those verbs. Find the ideal adjective. But don’t try to impress with big or obscure words. Instead, stick to words that aid comprehension.

5. Read copy aloud.

This is the final test. How do the words sound? Your ear will tell you which words don’t belong.