Monthly Archives: January 2016

Wishing You the Very Best of Everything

I believe this was a line intoned by Ed McMahon years ago in a Budweiser Christmas commercial. Old Ed could read the ingredients on a cereal box and make you want to buy the product.

I have nothing against Ed McMahon or cereal. But this meaningless sort of jabberwocky posing as communication has got me started and running. “Our team offers best in class empowerment by reaching out and circling back to drill down to the passionate implementation of our process utilization modalities.” What does this even mean? Frankly nothing, since I wrote it.

But we all recognize this type of language. We see it wherever someone is trying to make us feel good and/or convince us of their professional expertise in order to persuade us of something. (Usually to buy or buy into what they’re selling.)

A couple years ago, I started compiling a list of such words and phrases: those which, when linked together, have the appearance of saying something very important while actually being bereft of content.

Nothing, in fact, is new under the sun. After some work on this list, I realized I was merely retracing Ambrose Bierce’s steps by appending his Devil’s Dictionary. It’s not that I eschew erudite vocabulary. I believe words have meanings which can be subtle and can be used to convey thoughts in a more or less precise manner. Sometimes the 25 cent word works best, sometimes the ha’penny.

The rules of style at Urbanwood are: keep it clear, professional and substantive. Levity is okay, even encouraged when one is blogging. But for heaven’s sakes, avoid being vacuous.