Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Noise words project null percentage points

American news services like the phrase percentage points. Especially CNN and the NYT.

In statistical terms, what is percentage points?
  • The DOW rose three percentage points today.
  • The number of people who support the war in Iraq has fallen by thirty percentage points.
  • The polls show that McCain rose in popularity over Romney by a ten percentage point difference.

Why couldn't they just say,
  • The DOW rose three percent today.
  • The number of people who support the war in Iraq has fallen by thirty percent.
  • The polls show that McCain rose in popularity over Romney by a ten percent difference.

If they wanted to emphasize percent, it would have been more effective had they, instead, said
  • The DOW rose three freakin percent today.
  • The number of people who support the war in Iraq has fallen by thirty awesomest percent.
  • The polls show that McCain rose in popularity over Romney by a ten so-mother-fishering percent difference.

Use of noise words in media projects an air of pomposity and an attempt at increasing the importance of a phrase above others.

Example of noise phrases or words I find unbearable
  • Is your cup half-full or half-empty?
  • With all due respect
  • It never ceases to amaze me
  • Basically
  • In the final analysis of the matter
  • I am going to go to ...
  • quote-unquote
  • per (per your request, per the items listed in the agenda, per the frequency of meetings held, per ... arrggh)
Per is about the most annoying noise word. I think people who use it tend not to know what it actually means and don't know when its use is appropriate, except realising that the word sounds really cool, and macho. Next, is talking to someone who starts every sentence with basically.

Do not say,
I am going to go to work.
I am going to go home.

Say,
I will be going to work.
I am going home.

Otherwise, we might as well say,
I am going to going to going ... to going to go to throw up.

Try not to say, or write,
I have performed the tasks per the instructions in the manual, as agreed upon per the minutes of the meeting, per the requirement of Standard Operating Procedures which follows per ISO 9000. This was done, per our understanding that it is per the coming visit of the honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

Why can't people just simply say, or write,
I have performed the tasks according to the manual, as agreed upon in the meeting, due to the Standard Operating Procedures, which complies with ISO 9000 requirements. It is our understanding that this was for the coming visit of the honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

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