Tuesday, 20 February 2018

A Word Too Far

I  have noted, as of late, a perplexing propensity towards the use of superfluous superlatives. Long a popular method utilized in advertising, rather egregious overstatement is hardly a new phenomenon. It is also present in references to attributes such as ‘biggest’, ‘strongest’ and ‘worst’ which feature prominently in reality shows titles such as The Biggest Loser, World’s Strongest Man and the Worst Drivers series of programs set in various countries. 

Few places are such instances more numerous than online. Even a casual perusal of a streaming site, such YouTube just for a for instance, and one will spy variable cornucopia of videos making such claims, often ‘tagged’ in most brazen upper-case letters, i.e. ‘BEST ROCK COMPILATION EVER’, ‘FUNNIEST FAILS EVER!!’ and ‘MOST SHOCKING THINGS CAUGHT ON LIVE T.V.’. The issue present in such proclamations is they are essential unsupportable. Some may argue that they are based on personal opinion but the terminology used elevates the statement to the point of an absolute state. The word ‘perfect’, for example, when used properly, leaves nearly no room from flexibility. Something can be ‘nearly perfect’ or ‘not quite perfect’ but that is about all. A fact which makes statements gross exaggerations at best and willful deception at worst. 

A way to avoid this’s to use a qualifier such as ‘one of’, ‘among’ and ‘on record’. Also, it is prudent to pay attention to context, words such as ‘great’ being posses of more than a singular meaning. There is ‘great poet’ in terms of relative quality, as well as ‘Great Wall of China' in terms of scale and Alexander the Great and ‘The Great Train Robbery’ in terms of impressiveness and comparative importance. 


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