Friday, July 11, 2008

Muddying the Verbal Waters

I've put up a number of postings about expanding our vocabularies. We too often opt for a general place-holder word instead of finding a word that says what we specifically want to say. It is also true that in trying to find a "nice" way to say things we often create confusion. And then there are those who write about what are fairly simple, ordinary topics but want to make them seem more important then they are. We've all seen examples of "legalese" that make us want to scratch our heads. There is also "business-ese."

The following examples deal with subject matter that is fairly simple; yet, the language and writing is such that the meaning of the passages is becoming lost in a sea of “I-know-lots-of-big-vocabulary-words-and-I-can-prove-it-to-you-itis.” I use these examples with my business writing classes to point out that there needs to be a balance between simple language that can be too vague and complex language that can be too confusing. What is the plain meaning of each of the passages?

Pending further deliberations based on extensive collaborative research and inquiry, it would not be prudent at this time to speculate as to the possible future outcome of the program under review. It is, therefore, strongly recommended that students not be channeled into the aforementioned programs unless they are advised that a certainty exists that said programs may have changes established that would seriously disadvantage those whose assumptions are that the program will remain as presently structured throughout the duration of their school attendance.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, it is believed that all scheduled appearances as previously documented and entered into the required electronic records of appointments will come to fruition.

Because the tensile strength of the chemically engineered substance nylon has fluctuating variations that make it sensitive to outside disturbances, care must be exercised to avoid contact between the substance and abrasive or corrosive agents which might inflict damage upon it.

There does not exist at present, as documented in the professional literature and based upon extensive and comprehensive research, a true and binding correlation between the ingestion of comestibles falling into the class known as “non-nutritive menu components,” which do not actively and positively contribute to the essentials of human nutrition as set down in the precepts established by the Federal Food and Drug Administration, and disorders of the derma that fall into the established category of acne, although some documentation would seem to point to such a correlation. It would be our recommendation that care should be exercised when including such products, as further research is ongoing which may show associative patterns.

It is possible to conclude that other factors besides atmospheric hyper hydro-oxygenation may contribute to increased levels of body fluid being released through the process of pore retro-hydration, particularly as influenced by seasonal and atmospheric fluctuations and variations, as well as hyper-kinesis as may be found in athletic endeavors.

I'll give you a hint on this last one. In Victorian times ladies who had the particular condition described were described as "glowing" or "glistening." The plain, Anglo-Saxon term was considered as rather too vulgar to apply to people.


SuperRaizy said...

OK, Let's give this a shot:
paragraph #1- classes are subject to cancellation or rescheduling
#2- All scheduled activities will take place
#3- Do not bleach.
#4- Junk food doesn't cause pimples.
#5-sweating can be caused by humidity, heat, and exercise.
How did I do?

ProfK said...

Almost there Raizy. Without giving away all the answers, you need to recheck one of your answers.

Anonymous said...

1. We're still checking to see if the classes are needed or wanted. Enroll them at your own risk; they are subject to cancellation.

2. Scheduled activities will likely take place.

3. Do not bleach pantyhose. A "delicate" wash cycle is suggested.

4. Junk food may or may not cause pimples, but avoid such foods to be on the safe side.

5. Sweating can be caused by temperature, humidity and exercise.

Anonymous said...

When I attend a seminar, and questions are asked afterward, I am often astounded at how long the speaker can stretch an answer of "I don't know", without ever using those dreaded words.

ProfK said...

Ari and Raizy,
Read #3 again. Remember that you are looking for "pshat."

ProfK said...

Oh, and just for the record, these are taken from actual pieces of writing: the first from an academic bulletin; the second from a business memo; the third from a label that was packaged with a product; the fourth and fifth from two studies that were published in professional/governmental journals/bulletins.

Anonymous said...

Harsh detergents may weaken or erode nylon.