(Updated July 31, 2018) If ever there was encouragement to stay away from the overused word “unique” (not to mention “very unique”), here it is. At least 48,095 news releases used it in 2008. (It’s less common in 2018, but don’t kid yourself; it’s still out there.)
David Meerman Scott’s analysis of 711,123 press releases distributed by North American companies that year displayed in alarming numbers just how “unique,” “world class,” “flexible” and “robust” the “new and improved” products were that these companies were “pleased to” announce. One of my real pet peeves, “leverage,” also made the top 10 list.
In Guy Kawasaki‘s book, Reality Check, he suggests taking the opposite test. “See if your competition uses the antonyms of the adjectives that you use. If it doesn’t, your description is useless.” So there’s no point in claiming scalable, secure, fast and easy to use if other companies don’t admit their products are limited, full of leaks, slow and hard to use.
Scott and HubSpot created a Gobbledygook Grader to find weasel words and gobbledygook, although it seems to have disappeared. But I have run across these other jargon finders, which I tested using the phrase “leverage our robust, world-class solutions”:
- Instructional Solutions’ Jargon Grader highlighted leverage and robust as jargon.
- Science and Public’s “automatic jargon identifier for scientists engaging with the public and science communication educators” highlighted leverage as the only jargon.
Image: OpenClipart-Vectors, Pixabay