The English language is remarkable for its richness, and often allows for a choice of word or expression according to the flavour which the speaker intends to convey. The two versions of the same statement which follow are both saying the same thing. Or are they?
The modern advertising executive is full of creative ideas which can turn a rather staid image into something new and exciting. He knows what aspiring consumers want and he makes sure that the product really fits their expectations. He makes the best use of the latest scientific and psychological methods to ensure that a client’s major investment in publicity gets the very best return. After all his fees depend on satisfied clients.
The trendy advertising guy touts the latest gimmick needed to turn a respectable product into a slick package. He’s onto the yuppie wavelength and knows just how to appeal to the punters’ greed. He’ll describe the current, fashionable theory of consumer behaviour, with a good sprinkling of psychological jargon, and suggest that you can safely bet a fortune that it’ll work for you. Win or lose, he still gets his cut.
I’ll leave it to you to decide between those two descriptions. But it’s worth spending a minute or two analysing the methods they use to convey totally different impressions. What is the difference between ‘creative ideas’ and ‘latest gimmick’, or between ‘major investment’ and ‘betting a fortune’? The contrast is exaggerated in order to make the point; but it reminds us of the importance of the choice of language needed to appeal to the right patterns in the Target’s mind. Care must be taken to avoid giving the wrong impression, or endangering the impact you intend.
Secondsight Blog is of course largely designed to stimulate discussion on a variety of issues. Sometimes these are serious and important, others are rather lighter. Nothing pleases me more than contributors disagreeing – including of course disagreeing with me. It is interesting to note how contributors choose their language to support their impact.
When I wrote recently about rhetoric I did of course include rhetorical writing. And we considered whether rhetoric could be judged a little underhand since we are deliberately choosing to persuade our readers by using techniques of which they are not aware.
So we might pause for a moment and consider how often, whether on this blog or elsewhere, we use rhetoric to get our point across – perhaps at the expense of our reader.