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Giving credit to Dr. Suess, and his cat

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At the Bank of England they understand numbers, but are, apparently, not so good with words. So it’s great to know that the Cat in the Hat is doing his bit to help all of us to understand what the bank is trying to tell us. It’s a response to the discovery that the bank’s inflation reports baffle four readers out of every five.

The bank’s guide towards plainer speaking has been thepaper money small cat’s creator, Dr Suess. The Suess way with simple words is now the bank’s ideal.

But I’d say short words and simple sentences are only part of it. No matter how long or short, some words work on our emotions, for better and for worse. I know my heart sinks when I hear, or read, particular words and phrases, and it doesn’t encourage understanding.

This isn’t the place to get into politics, but I’d say that both ‘strong’ and ‘stable’ have become heart-sink words for lots of people in the UK.

The problem is that people are often blissfully unaware of the fact that they have been taken prisoner by their industry or sector’s jargon. It’s so much part of their working day that they don’t know how their insider-speak makes everybody else feel.

Let’s use politics as an example again. Just about every politician now uses the phrase ‘going forward’ in every interview. ‘In the future’ is no longer good enough, it has be be ‘going forward’.

I can be listening to what’s being said nodding agreement, but that changes as soon as I hear that heart-sink phrase. From there on in, they’ve lost me.

First published at LinkedIn.

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