Category Archives: vague language

Viral Videos

My last post was about a phrase I feel is vague and overused.  This one is about a word that is growing exponentially because of the speed of the Internet’s mass transmissions.  The word is “viral” — You’ve probably heard it and know what it means.  It’s anything that spreads and multiplies really, really fast, like a computer virus or an Internet email hoax or an epidemic.  Speaking of epidemics, Malcolm Gladwell has penned a timely book about the science of social epidemics — fads, trends, and ideas that start out relatively insignificant, but when a few small changes are factored in, become outrageously popular.  Those little changes, often surprisingly, are what cause the trend to reach a tipping point, where it then quickly becomes an epidemic.  In The Tipping Point, Gladwell gives lots of examples from history.  Anyone involved in the marketing of ideas and products should check this book out.

But “viral” is a word that is also a little vague.  On a website that features the top 10 viral videos and photos, I found a video with 7 views and one with over 2,500 views.  It seems they’re all humorous too.  Obviously, the selections are made by the author of that site.  But truly viral videos are Continue reading

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What is a vast majority to you?

Are there words or phrases that bug you when you hear them used?  I don’t mean expressions like, “like,” “you know,” “so anyway…,” or any other patter that occurs during casual communications.  No, I’m talking about vague terminology and euphemisims used so often in the media and by the government that it makes one wonder if all of them are totally unaware of how annoying that is to the vast majority of people.

Take vast majority for instance. What percent constitutes a vast majority?  I tried to find out by Googling the exact phrase, “vast majority” and examining some of the 18.6 million results. Continue reading