English is dead, murdered, at the blood-stained hands of Corporate America.
As a video game enthusiast, I ran across this article regarding recent Microsoft Layoffs.
“The realignments of headcount are directly intended to strengthen the Xbox 360 platform and align resources with key strategic initiatives, including Xbox LIVE.”
If I were to try to remember how we used to speak, I think the Microsoft spokesperson was trying to say:
“We fired a ton of people, but we tried to not fire the people responsible for the profitable stuff like Xbox Live.”
But I don’t know, it’s been so long since I’ve read English that this Orwellian Newspeak is almost starting to make sense to me.
English will be missed, and is survived by its children, TXT, LOLSpeak, and Jargon.
Much of the reason I’ve been sparsely populating this blog over the past week is that I’ve been laboring on a 10,000-word marketing opus for my day job.
That was about 7,000 words too many, and now it’s a process of “killing babies” until it gets there.
It doesn’t matter whether you write for a living every day or not; the fact is that everyone is a writer, and more so if you’re in marketing.
When you’re in high school, writing assignments are padded to reach a certain word count. After high school though, overly verbose writing is the hallmark of the lazy. George Orwell’s rule is, “If you can cut a word out, always cut it out.”
This goes for emails, blog posts, and especially ad copy: you can take the easy way out and write so much that you wind up diluting your original message, or you can spend time trimming fat and condensing it into something potent.
How do you know if your communication is overweight? I use these guidelines:
- Did you say everything you wanted to? Great, but that’s exactly twice as long as it should be.
- Think it should stay? Delete it first, and see if you miss it. Chances are, you won’t.
- Stop thinking about what you want to say, and start thinking about what you want to get across.
No one likes cutting up their own communication, it’s time-consuming and ego-deflating. But, much like sharpening a pencil (or losing 500 pounds), you won’t miss what you lose and you’ll be much happier with the result.