But… but… but…

Yesterday I mentioned using business jargon in our communications. I subsequently read about some analysis of financial writing which got me thinking. It turns out there are whole ‘literary laboratories‘ investigating the use of language in business. Who knew?

A story which did the rounds a few weeks ago arose from one such analysis. At the World Bank, the chief economist recently pointed out that over the years the use of the word ‘and’ has doubled to almost 7 per cent in reports. This has to stop, he said, to encourage more focused thinking.

I can see his point, although it may apply to conjunctions in general. I’d guess that there are far fewer conjunctions in a Powerpoint bullet-point presentation than there are in the average prose report summary. Using ‘but’, ‘although’ (which I just did) or ‘whereas’ usually means you’re about to put another side to an argument. Some people may just want to hear that. They need the reasons why one side of the argument has been chosen. They don’t care about the rejected alternatives.

This view may have implications for marketing copywriting. If you’re trying to make a point, you need to be focused. Re-reading something you’ve written and highlighting the conjunctions may highlight areas which could be sharpened up.

Or it may not.

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