A Point of View © 1996
Of Thinking and Expressing Ourselves
By Paul V. Montesino, Ph.D., MBA. ICCP.
One of the challenges we confront in our writing efforts as professionals is to be able to say the most with the least. What I mean is to be able to express our ideas as fully as possible without using too many words. The dictionary provides a noun that helps us keep the proverbial wordy gun in our holster, pardon me for using a weapon as an example: we call it redundancy.
We shouldn’t say “very beautiful” when the word “beautiful” is sufficient. “Very bright” cannot be compared with “bright.” My point is that there is or must be a line or a rule separating an adjective from its adverb. I will try to prove my point not complying with that rule completely. Oops!
A few years ago, when I started to work for a Boston bank, one of the benefits my employer considered was my ability to translate for them the occasional business letters they received from South American banks that were in Spanish. It took a while before my supervisor, letter in hand, called me to help translate a letter received from a country that will remain anonymous.
We are all familiar with the term hyperbole, “an extravagant exaggeration” according with Webster’s. Typically, several words travel together in a hyperbole, one a noun or adjective, and one or several of them together with adverbs. The letter that my supervisor showed me was a hyperbole multiplied by itself many times, what I call a hyperbole to the square potency.
The introduction was not just Dear Manager. It was Dear, Illustrious and Honorific Manager. It was clear that the letter was meant to create a good impression.
In the first paragraph, before moving into the reason for writing to the bank, “Dear Manager” was supposed to enjoy good health as was the manager’s wife and his family. It was clear that the man who had written the letter expected only men on the receiving end. Male chauvinism Latino style. I am sure you will not be surprised when I tell you that the “Dear Manager” who was holding the letter was one of the most efficient women branch managers in our bank.
But I don’t want to “hyperbolize” my article by exploiting the unusual length and wordiness of that letter. I want to come to today’s practice when long descriptions become short and at times incomprehensive.
Someone makes a comment or posts a picture in any of the popular social media outlets, and we respond Like or click on one of the small images called emoji to express our opinion, not to sound redundant with “express ALL our opinions.”
And then there is the famous chirping note we convert into a message that is limited to 280 characters. Romeo could have a fit of words proposing to Juliet, but I doubt if she would have appreciated his words limited to 280. How about the part where he says “honey, please let’s not waste time and elope?”
By now you think that I have a problem with our ability to communicate. I don’t. I am only proposing that we should consider each other and express ourselves with respect, clarity, and correctness. If you choose to give me a hug instead of a Like, I might welcome it. We have learned a skill that few members of the animal kingdom enjoy: the ability to talk. If we use it properly, our differences might disappear and cordiality and not animosity night result. Future letter writers might address them to “your husband, or wife” and not to one of them alone.
And that’s my Great Enormous, but not hyperbolic, Point of View today.