As a journalist, and hopefully as a wordsmith, a day never goes by in which I don’t learn something. I read a lot, both fiction (I am currently enjoying the masterful ‘Canada’ by one of America’s greatest contemporary authors, Richard Ford) and non-fiction (news, arts, sports and travel industry, in particular), mostly online.
I am fascinated by words and their power, even in an age that has become synonymous with the dumbing down of communication to 140 characters (now 280 for selected users). If you read Richard Ford you will see the power of ‘less is more’ in terms of word use. He uses few words per sentence but, boy, are they splendid ones. As opposed to the ones used by a certain US President (though his words certainly convey power, among other things).
Over the algid days of a London Christmas, I bought a natty little desk calendar called ‘365 new words a year’ (from the editors of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). And already, just three days into 2018, I am enjoying it hugely. So much, in fact, that I have decided to weave in each new word to The Moodie Blog during the year. I am offering them up as my attempt, if you like, to mithridate against the dumbing down of the English language, both in travel retail-speak and general usage.
I’m also going to list some words, terms and use of the English language that cry out for a life-long ban, at least from our industry. After all, if I’m adding 365 words, I should also eliminate the same number to avoid clutter. Look out certain PR companies, you should not be charging your clients very good money for misuse of the English language (something which we then have to fix).
This approach is particularly appropriate given that The Moodie Blog’s new sponsor, Victorinox, is featuring the Lexicon Collection in its branding. Lexicon, of course, means not only a very good travel accessory but also the vocabulary of a person, language, or sector.
Any adjective plopped (an appropriate word) in front of ‘unique’ is henceforth banned from The Moodie Davitt Report (I will pay good money for any spotted). So are terms such as ‘very first’, ‘marries together’ (Scotch whisky and Cognac PRs beware), ‘and also’ and another 100 or so I have included in a new in-house Gazette of terms likely to lead to a certain publisher’s apoplexy.
There, that’s got all that off my chest. Just three days into 2018 and I feel better already. And I’ve used up my first three words from Merriam-Webster in a single Blog. Did you spot them?
Into the travel retail Lexicon bin (Episode 1):
- Travel retail exclusive: So, tell me, what does that term mean to the travelling consumer? What consumer do you know who is not involved in retail who actually uses the word ‘retail’? We’re talking shopping, right? Let’s find the right term or terms in 2018 because such products are vital to travel retail’s future. They deserve a decent name.
- Operators: The term ‘operators’ should be banned from our industry anyway; it sounds like someone using a forklift machine. Travel retail operators? Let’s just say, travel retailers, OK? Food & Beverage operators is more difficult. What to replace the ‘operators’ with? But is Jamie Oliver at Gatwick Airport really best described as a food & beverage operator? Do we call the best downtown restaurateurs F&B operators? Does any consumer? Do they use the term ‘beverage’? No, they say ‘drinks’ (we did try the F&D acronym for a while but as it implies FAD that seemed unduly temporary). Suggestions by e-mail please.
- ‘Truly unique’ (and numerous variations on unique): No, no and no. If it is unique, it is a one-off, the only one of its kind, unlike anything else. What, then, would make it ‘truly’ unique?