Ragging on over-used words in business communications is one of the major purposes of this blog, but the business world isn’t the only place you’ll find weary vocabulary. The presidential campaign that is upon us reminds us of the annoying momentum that certain vocabulary builds amongst politicians.
Sure, there’s lots of catch phrases…it goes with the territory. But the one that gets me is the use of the word “Look!” at the beginning of a sentence when the candidate is making a statement, on camera. Almost every candidate uses it; some say it 5 or 6 times within a debate or during a substantive interview. It’s now the rote exclamation, seemingly chanted to signal that what is about to be said is meant emphatically, and the wisdom revealed is not to be questioned.
We hear it so often that it has no affect other than to add to the impression that the candidate is in the standard “candidate-speak” mode. It’s almost as unnecessary as the grossly-popular “at this point in time” back in the early 90s.
Ordering us to “Look!” has the same tone as “Listen up!” and implies that the listener isn’t paying close enough attention, and that the words that follow have the importance of an edict, a proclamation, or perhaps a previously undisclosed truth.
Speaking of politics and primary elections, if you have limited time to evaluate the candidates, my recommendation is this: listen to each of them talk for 30 to 45 minutes in a relaxed setting with Tim Russert on the “Meet the Press” interviews that are available on-line on msnbc.com. As Tim Russert’s father (a loyal viewer, of course) would say, “you get a chance to size them up.” Tim grills them fairly well, but importantly, no one is interrupting them in order to sustain a combative, hyper pace.
If you get bored, you can always make sport of counting the number of times that they say “Look.”