BLIMP – Bulk Looks IMPportant

by sue on November 9, 2009

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about why people who can speak like normal human beings so often use long, complex words when they write. They’ll write “utilize” when they would say “use.” That’s when it’s a verb. They get even goofier when they wander into the world of nouns. A simple phrase like “frequent use” becomes “utilization frequency.”

Then they string their multisyllabic hyperextended words together to produce a complex phrase and, separated by words like “and” or “however,” they join it up with other equally complicated and unintelligible words, that, as a reader, you may or may not bother to look up in a dictionary or other reference book, ensuring that they maximize the leverage of their parameters and the creation of an alarmingly long – and possibly meaningless – sentence that goes on for days. Sort of like the one I just wrote.

They then string those impossibly incomprehensible sentences into multipage reports that land on your desk with a “Thud.” You look at them. You cry, “Ugh!” and place them on a shelf to read when you have the time. You never have the time.

People inflict these awful documents on us because, somewhere in their past, they got the impression that Bulk Looks IMPortant (BLIMP). Are big words, big sentences, big documents worth more than short, clear, crisp ones? Do they communicate better? Do they aid understanding? Far from it. They confuse. Rule #3 is Avoid BLIMP. Blimpy writing gets in the way of understanding. It’s like air in a Zeppelin, taking up lots of space, but there’s nothing there.

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