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Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

Some further things to expunge from your professional (and non-professional) vocabulary.

Availability

This is, like functionality, a multisyllabic word that can usefully be replaced by something short and simple – and therefore clear and direct.

Not What’s your availability? A simple Are you free? (or busy or maybe even available) will do fine.

And not I have no availability – just I’m busy.

Piece

People will talk about the employment piece or the environmental piece of a transaction or what-have-you.

Conceptually it’s unobjectionable; it describes a part of a larger whole, an aspect of the bigger picture, an element of something more complex.

It’s just that it’s overused and therefore a bit weary. Couldn’t you try to vary things by referring to the employment issues (or aspects or components or …)?

Synergies

This is just jazzing up the ordinary with pseudo-scientific lingo. Why not just there are opportunities for co-operation (or collaboration), affinities, associations, links …?

Tweak

We don’t seem to revise or edit documents now; invariably we tweak them.

Originally, to tweak someone’s nose was to pull and twist that person’s proboscis. It came to be used figuratively, and at some point (in the 1960s?) it was applied to the making of fine adjustments to a car or other machine.

And from there to legal documents. Not sure how or why; and again, it’s OK in principle but worn-out from use. Find a new metaphor or go back to a plain, non-metaphoric description.

(More recently, to tweak (out) is to become twitchy from using amphetamines or meth. Not to be confused with twerk.)

Value proposition

If piece is overused, this one is done to death. What’s the value proposition?

Instead of this hackneyed phrase, try something simple like What value does it offer? What is it worth? What are you offering? Even What do you bring to the table? is better, though a bit trite.

Anything but the worn-out cliché of the value proposition.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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