Has your partner ever asked you to clarify what you mean when you say, “I’ll do that LATER”? If so, help has arrived in the form of a crack team of language experts. They’re lobbying the UK Parliament to eradicate words that cannot be accurately quantified. They argue that words like SOON, QUICKLY, VERY, MORE, and AWHILE, add little information that isn’t already known, and paint an inaccurate picture that is open to interpretation.
For example, if my wife asks me when I’m going to cut the grass and I say, “I’ll cut it later”, she only knows I will cut it, but not when. In my mind that could mean after meeting Bill and Terry for a beer this afternoon, or maybe even later in the week? If I’d said, “I’ll start immediately after the football ends on the TV”, at least we’d have a sound basis for the start of negotiations!
Apart from restoring marital harmony, having to accurately quantify information has other uses. For example:
- Saying Montreal is REALLY cold in the winter is not only obvious to most of us, but inaccurate if you’re from Siberia.
- If I say, “I’ve a LOT of vinyl records”, just how many do I have, and it is “a lot” to you?”
- If a company announces it is CLOSE to releasing their new product”, you can tell their press release has been written by their Marketing team.
- If you’re asked if you can complete a task quickly, and you respond “Yes”, what are the expectations of both parties of when the task will be completed?
It’s a minefield. I just wish they’d start eradicating words and phrases like “24/7” and “dude” first.