Too Many Words


A few years ago I came across a newspaper article titled something along the lines of: “Random Word Generator for Managers.”  The article included a lengthy table containing several columns of words one could choose to produce a phrase that sounded quite impressive but meant almost nothing.

In today’s world we are able to search the web using “Random Phrase Generator” and come up with dozens of entries claiming to produce intelligent-sounding phrases one might use to impress readers.

The late, great Elmore Leonard often advised aspiring writers to “Leave out the parts people don’t want to read,” and became successful doing just that in a long list of western and crime novels, many of which became movies.

I thought of all this a few days ago when I read this description in our local newspaper: “dynamic zero-depth aquatic play area.”  I am in awe of the skill it takes to use those six words to say “sprayground,” which is the word used in the master plan developed by the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee I served on for a couple of years.

My vote was one of the unanimous cast by the Committee to approve, among many other things, “spraygrounds” (I think it was 3 or 4 of them).  A sprayground is a plot of ground outfitted with water jets that are programmed to go off at random.  The idea is for children to run through the plot to laugh, get wet, and cool off, in that order, when the water shoots out.

It’s a great idea, cheaper than a pool, easier to use, safer, and less expensive to maintain, and I probably would still have voted for it, but if they’d called it a “dynamic zero depth aquatic play area” I’m certain we would have wasted some time trying to figure out what that meant.  Really. 

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