Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Meaningless Words

While working yesterday I happened across this site as I was attempting to find out what the hell "non-comodegenic" means, as it isn't in my dictionary (and yet, McJob and bling-bling are, but that's another story). I found it interesting to see commentary on this page regarding "nothing" words in the beauty industry, as one of the first lectures I received when I started working for an IT magazine, back in 1999, was on the meaninglessness of the word "solution(s)". In 1999 it was only being used on occasion here and there, but my editor at that time drummed into my head that this was a meaningless word and was never to be used, except in its proper context of a solution to a problem [is that...]. This lecture, in turn, reminded me of being in school and having 12 years' worth of English teachers telling me the meaninglessness of the word "nice".

Anyway, six years later, solution(s) is the bane of my existance. It is now everywhere – no longer just the IT sector – and it means absolutely nothing. I feel ill every time I'm subjected to "banking solutions", "financial solutions", "hosting solutions", "direct-marketing solutions"... Most sickening to me is all the companies that have sprung up with the word in the company name. It's worse than all the companies named "milennium" [sic] or "millenium" [sic] that suddenly appeared as we approached the millennium (I wonder what they call themselves now, as they all seem to have disappeared).

There are wonderful synomyns for solution in every context in which it is abused but people don't even try anymore. It's become perfectly acceptable to throw the word around – and no one seems to notice, or care.

Every time I see the word in copy, or worse – a tag line – for an ad or in an advertorial, I know there's a lazy copywriter behind it that doesn't deserve to be called a writer, and a creative team that doesn't deserve the account. The number of advertising companies that are producing stunning work without using the word is diminishing by the day, and that saddens me immensely. And don't blame the client. I've had to write numerous profiles on IT companies that used "solution speak" (and – frighteningly – are completely incapable of communicating in normal English), and I omit the word every time. I've yet to have a company demand that I insert it, as I believe they usually don't even notice that it's missing. Should they try, they'll get my "solution speak" lecture and, hopefully, feel very, very small.

If I had the power, I would wipe the word from our collective consciousness. If you have the power, please do that for me. I'll owe you one.



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