Crowdsourcing, carbon neutral, inboxing - just a few of the 'buzz' words that appear in copy everywhere.
So fast are new words being invented, or new uses for existing words being created, that it can be hard to keep up. But if these new words or word uses leave people confused, then the perpetrators might be alienating their readers. It's great (particularly for word geeks like us) that our language is an ever-growing and evolving tool, but you need to get the right balance between expressing exactly what you mean in the most concise way, and speaking the language of your target market.
Because rather than conveying knowledge, over use of buzz words can more often than not repel readers, especially if you aren't writing with your audience at the forefront of your mind. So for instance, how many of us are turned on by reading about ROI, web 2.0 or sticky websites? It's fine if it's written for people within that industry, but if it's a piece for non-industry types, you need to stick to laymen's terms. A term that is suitable for an annual report will probably not pack the same punch with your customers.
Up until a couple of years ago, how many people were familiar with the term superinjunction? Now of course, superinjunction is part of our everyday language as we discuss round the watercooler (or on Twitter) which celeb has taken one out this week.
The same goes for yoof speak, innit. And there lies my major turn off. It sounds cringeworthy coming from a marketeer. I'm a bit old to be 'down with the kids' so I don't call things ‘sick’ and ‘bad’ when I am speaking or writing as myself and certainly not when writing as Owl Marketing. And I rarely LOL, ROFL or PMSL.
For a bit of Friday fun we recently tweeted about portmanteaus, a sort of 'ringer' of words rather than cars. Advertorial, sitcom, emoticon and Labradoodle (my favourite) are all examples of a portmeanteau. We posed the question:-
"A portmanteau is a) a sea creature b) a smoking jacket c) something else?"
and got some funny replies on both Twitter and Facebook including:-
"its a wordy blend of other words ....to create a new word like nibble and chew = nibbew??!! so c then......./"
Portmanteaus are both simple and clever, and an exciting way in which language develops, but we don’t plan to actually refer to ourselves as Deliza.
A fun way to demonstrate the key (and over used) buzz words in your sector is to play buzz word bingo next time you're in a business meeting. Write a list of all the words that regularly get used at meetings, and tick them off as they get dropped into the conversation. Once you get a full house though, don't shout out bingo too loud!
Which words and terms do you keep spotting that really get your goat? What grates with you and which words are you guilty of over using?