Help! Where did all these dumb words come from?

So, no-one has problems any more – they only have ‘issues’. As far as I can recall, this is one of the earliest examples of a stupid word displacing a perfectly good one. Had the, er, issue ended there, we might have lived with it, albeit through gritted teeth. But what the hell has happened? We’ve become so prim and proper that our language is now peppered with soft-soap euphemisms that have replaced everyday functional words now inexplicably deemed vulgar or inappropriate.

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Seven writing mistakes guaranteed to annoy your customers

Crafting the perfect customer letter or email can be tricky. Mass corporate communications are usually composed to tight deadlines yet often require delicate input from multiple business stakeholders. Even with the best intentions it can be easy for the importance of the customer experience to slip from top of mind in the sheer process of ‘getting a letter out’.

Nonetheless there are certain traits prevalent in many corporate communications that are unlikely to lead to happier customers and yet are easily avoided. Below are a few culprits that seem to crop up time and again.

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The five best things I learned doing a creative writing MA

As a novice, er, novelist, I got lucky. To no-one’s surprise so much as my own, I was accepted onto the MA Creative Writing (Research) program at the University of Technology Sydney, the output of which, five years later, was my novel Where There Is Darkness and a 10,000-word ‘exegesis’ (a word I had to look up in a dictionary upon starting the course).

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Ten corporate buzzwords you never want to hear again

I should perhaps have created a blog category called ‘Rants’, into which this effort would squarely fall. Then again, it is all about words, as is this blog (mostly), so I’ll leave it as is. Either way, corporate jargon is something of a pet hate, and a subject to which I’ll be returning in later blog posts. Continue Reading →

Why don’t the police talk like normal people?

Repeated exposure to television’s nightly round-up of crime, violence and human misery – a.k.a. the six o’clock news – leads me to wonder where police officers learn to talk. Is the abandonment of normal speech a critical part of their academy training? Continue Reading →

The best seat in the house

For the fourth year running, a seal has taken up seasonal residence on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. I don’t mean on the main front steps – the ones Crowded House perform on – but the narrow ones leading down to the little landing stage at the north-west tip of the Opera House forecourt. Luckily these steps are rarely in use, being reserved for visiting VIPs who arrive by water. Perhaps the royal barge moored there when the Queen opened the joint in 1973. Had a seal been in residence back then, it might have been evicted to make way for her. Or maybe the Queen would have deferred to the seal and ascended to the forecourt by another route, thus giving it the status of royal seal. Continue Reading →

Ten easy ways to fail on a TV cooking show

Television cooking show ‘season’ is upon us, so for one of my first blog posts I thought I’d offer some suggestions to those contestants (admittedly a minority) who from the opening scenes of the first episode give the impression that they suddenly wish they were somewhere else… Continue Reading →