Wordtrack?

By Joseph Normandin
Rant posted by John McHale

In a past blog I lamented on the overuse of acronyms within military circles and how it can convolute the English language. Today I'm venting over a buzz term one of our marketing people threw at me the other day - wordtrack.

I said "wordtrack, what the &*$#% is that?" She replied "it's a description or writeup." a I said then why not say that.

When did we have to sound "techno-hip" while talking about marketing write-ups? I know I'm sounding old for someone not yet 40, but text messaging and instant messaging, email, etc., is skewering the written word.

My younger cousin, while in college, told me that I was the only person he knew that wrote instant messages in complete sentences! He couldn't understand why I bothered. That's the attitude today. Poor language skills are nurtured due to laziness. Some people almost look at writing like some arcane magic, impossible to learn.

Writing like Hemmingway's or Graham Greene's is rare, but mostly everyone can learn basic grammar skills. Someone once said "if you can think, you can write." So true.

The increased use of terms like "wordtrack" reminds me of a George Carlin monologue where he wondered "when did toilet paper become bathroom tissue?" Carlin's message was that the softening of language so as not to offend can be offensive in itself. He added pretty soon people won't be ugly but will have "severe facial deficits."

As editors we see many examples of poor writing skills in press releases, company websites, technical white papers, etc. Many times the grammar is fine, but the pieces are unorganization. Sometimes four paragraphs are used to make a point that could be made in one paragraph.

For those of you submitting something for publication or even a news story, I think one of the best pieces of advice was something my journalism professor told me years ago: “your lead should be what you would tell your best friend about the subject if you only had a minute to get it out.”

Cary Grant, playing big city newspaper editor Walter Burns in "His Girl Friday," said it another way when speaking to his protege: “didn't they tech you anything in journalism school? Get it in the first paragraph, because no one ever reads the second one!”

Maybe this small plea will inspire others to communicate better, but I fear terms such as "wordtrack" are here to stay. Although, every time I hear them I think of an acronym that matches Bart Simpson’s initials?.

Have a nice day.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

December 2013
Volume 24, Issue 12
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