The Inefficiency of Words.
Robert Cormack
46353

Yeah… no.

It is all very well to suggest that people insert words that need not be there or words that obfuscate rather than elucidate. Or, of course, that brilliant habit of using “posh” words when dull, boring, mean words would cut to the chase so much better. And let us not forget the gratuitous sprinkling of foreign, especially French, phrases that pepper post-modern discourse. That’s fine. That’s uncontroversial. That’s what everyone thinks so why would you write about it?

Complaining about robust is… interesting. The word essentially means sturdy. But it also has connotations of healthy. Look at the contexts you’ve brought up? Have they not said exactly what they mean to say? It’s just what they want to do with their language, according to you anyway, is have one watch the other hand. That’s the very opposite of inefficient. It’s also not desirable in politicians (if entirely expected). The main thing is that it is both.

Similarly, we have to question the conflation of laziness and inefficiency. A lazy person, generally, either does not do something or does it with the least amount of effort. That latter case is probably more pertinent here. After all, a truly lazy speaker doesn’t manage to achieve what they want. Yet, as we have discussed, your examples all manage to do what they want to do. In other words, we make few words do a lot of work. This is otherwise known as “efficient”.

Let’s take an example. I could have responded to this post with:

“Super.” “Great.”

Why didn’t I? Because I rather suspect you don’t get the allusion to a fairly obscure long expired British sitcom. Without that context knowledge there’s no point… you have no idea that I think this is some vacuous, superficial extended ice cream koan. If, however, Reginald Perrin means something to you, you know that I have deliberately copied the vacuous yes men phrases of corporate lackeys and infer I don’t think much of this piece. Then it’s efficient. More with less. Simple. Productive.

Most of this post is about Trump. Yeah, well, what isn’t? Seriously. What? Remember when the internet was just GoT spoilers? Anyway, when it talks about how the language choices employed by those who are erratically “in the know” it has a point. Keeping things short… keeping things appropriate for Twitter… was perhaps the inevitable end of the soundbite mentality (cf The Big Short). I mean, if you can’t explain it simply… actually, no, sometimes crap is just complex. And sure, simple words should, a priori, be preferred because, prima facie, they introduce less noise, but you still need time. So, hey, you’re right.

Similarly, it’s also true that some things we commonly understand are just… I suppose I mean… intangible when you stop to think for more than a minute. You mentioned “most grateful” as a “what does that really mean, though?” word. These words exist. Right on. Power to you. Tell us all about them.

However, what really matters here is that we actually understand idioms all the time. We understand double negatives. We understand some things superficially when other things are complete nonsense on that level. This is just how it is. Some of us are resigned to this. Some of us probably like it, deep down. The point is, it matters a lot that one knows what another means, even if one, logically, shouldn’t be able to do so.

This brings me back to the beginning: yeah… no. You’ve said some true things, but you don’t really have a point here. We understand what is meant in some of these examples. In other cases, we’re meant to be left confused or not aware that we should be confused. So, basically, you’re telling me that it is inefficient to use the language that actually achieves what one wishes? I’m sorry, that’s [appropriate literary allusion].

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