Frequently, we become so pragmatic that we fail to be effective. Years ago the editor of the Dallas Morning News pointed out to the sportswriters that "Bill" was not a suitable substitute for "William," and "Charlie" was not a suitable substitute for "Charles."
Taking him literally, one of the sportswriters, in the heyday of Doak Walker of Southern Methodist University, wrote about an important game. In his story he pointed out that in the third quarter Doak Walker had left the game with a "Charles horse." I think you'll agree that the story lost some meaning with the use of "Charles."
Perhaps the ultimate absurdity occurred in an article in a national publication when the writer set up the computer to analyze Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Incidentally, that address contains 362 words and 302 of them are one syllable. It's simple and direct but powerful and effective.
The computer, however, made some recommendations about how the speech really should have been given. For example, instead of saying, "Four score and seven years," the computer deemed that approach too wordy and suggested, "Eighty-seven years." The efficiency in the reduction is obvious, but the loss of effectiveness, power, drama, and passion is even more obvious.
When Lincoln said, "We are engaged in a great civil war," the computer questioned whether the word great was justified. This despite the fact that our nation suffered 646,392 casualties, including 364,511 deaths. The computer stated that the sentences were too long, and it criticized the statement that we could never forget what happened at Gettysburg as being negative.
I think you'll agree that eloquence and drama, combined with passion, logic, and common sense, are far more effective in inspiring people to do great things than technical correctness. Think about it. Knowing their power, use your words carefully. You'll be a greater contributor to humankind.
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