21 Feb 13
In my Instructor Courses, I caution students against using sloppy, non-specific language when lecturing students. Such sloppiness is corrosive to the instructor’s credibility and degrades the value of instruction.
An example is the over-use of “Madison Avenue-isms.”
Commonly heard in modern advertising, but properly absent from genuine instruction, a “Madison Avenue-ism” is using the comparative form of a adjective, without comparing it to anything.
Examples: “Tide gets clothes cleaner” and “I want this Country to be a better place in which to live.”
The former is typical of media product marketing. The latter is typical of non-precise rubbish that predictably comes from the mouths of crooked politicians.
Both clarify nothing. In less charitable terms, both represent a form of fraud.
In the former case, one might ask, “… cleaner than what?” In the latter, “… better than what?”
To honestly say, “Tide gets clothes clean” represents a specific promise. When Tide fails therein, one can point out that Tide promoters lied. Conversely, “Tide gets clothes cleaner” promises nothing, since, no matter how poor a job Tide does, any clothes laundered in Tide will surely be “cleaner” than something!
So, a Madison Avenue-ism is a false promise, a fraudulent claim. Who use them in speech are sloppy, and overly-casual with the truth.
Such blatant fraud is apparently acceptable in modern marketing and politics. It is not among Operators!
Sloppy language, like sloppy dressing, is indicative of sloppy thinking. Maybe acceptable in children, but unacceptable in anyone claiming to be an adult. Absolutely unacceptable in anyone claiming to be an Instructor!
The English Language is a gift to us in our age, the most precise, most expressive language there ever was. It is a gift to us by critical thinkers of past ages, who decided a complete thought should be communicated via a complete, English sentence.
But, many today can’t even put together a single, coherent English sentence. Not surprising that these same people are impervious to hard facts, logic, and lumpy truth, preferring instead to believe in incomprehensible fables, so long as they are smooth! A “sentence” made up entirely of prepositions and conjunctions represents little more than chaos, says nothing, concludes nothing. And yet, we hear little else from modern politicians. Unhappily, a majority of their eager listeners are no better!
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”