Victor's Ramblings

Semantic Ramblings - the true meanings of words and sentences.

  • The problem. 
    These days, it seems to me more people are writing long and poorly constructed sentences. These are full of pretentious words, often wrapped in faulty syntax. Some of these words suffer from the phenomenon which I have described as 'word inflation'. The authors think this displays their intelligence and learnedness. They then mix in large numbers of unnecessary words to make their sentences even longer. Sufferers of this disease breed prolifically in government bureaucracies. Politicians and advertisers are also guilty. Sometimes they speak in gobbledegook self-consciously in order to deliberately obscure their true meaning, or in order to avoid  answering a question directly.

However, the resulting sentences are, at best, difficult to understand, and, at worst, meaningless.

  • The solution.
    The clearest sentences use small simple words.  They are short.  They employ 'Plain English'.

Where the subject matter is highly technical or scientific it will be necessary to employ complex technical or scientific terms. These are intended for specialized readers who understand the terminology. There is no excuse for writing pseudo-scientific gobbledegook if the article is to be read by the general public.

  • Some Examples.
    Here are some examples of pretentious gobbledegook, with a translation into plain English.
Guilty Party Please don't say this. Say this instead..
Weather Bureau A severe precipitation event occurred. It rained heavily.
Advertising With care, skill and dedication, Aveo has refined its recipe for living well in retirement to help residents live well with ease and enjoy the strong bonds of community life Aveo has carefully improved its retirement living communities to make residents' lives easier.
Real Estate This 2 storey, master built home represents the best that quality can buy This 2-storey home is of high quality but costs a lot of money.
Politician Well, the exact nature of the emissions cuts in the terms of the longer term agreements of course will be the subject of the negotiations that will take place over the next couple of years but clearly the intention is and the Australian Government's position is that it needs to be legally binding agreement We don't know how big the emissions cuts will be. Negotiations will continue for two years. We hope they will be legally binding.
Bureaucrat High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process Children need good schools if they are to learn properly
Company Report With regards to geographical diversification strategy, the company aims to expand its operation to Asia. The company will expand its operation in Asia in order to diversify geographically.
A CSIRO executive director It costs money for the ship to be on various different power and we don't know what the comparison of that is until we've got the final report It is expensive to run the ship's generators continuously. The final report will reveal how much it is costing.
The same person again Because we've got a series of work happening at the moment, means we've got a lot of people working on board. Many concurrent projects are under way on board the ship, so it is crowded.