Four-letter words that make people panicBY SURESH SHAH
It’s not just in Singapore. But tape-recorded conversations find that roughly 80–90 spoken words each day in general — 0.5% to 0.7% of all words — are swear words, with usage varying from between 0% to 3.4%.
In comparison, first-person plural pronouns (we, us, our) make up 1% of spoken words.
The "seven dirty words"
A famous citing of a litany of four-letter (and some longer) vulgar words was in the US FCC's censorship of comedian George Carlin's radioplay of his comedy routine "The Seven Words You Can't Say on Television", better known as the "Seven dirty words" skit. Carlin later expanded the list in live and cable-televised performances to include over 100 words and phrases.
Apart from day-to-day conversation and/or, literature, we use Four Letter Words in commercial world.
“We really need it. If we don’t we can’t make the customer happy. Wouldn’t it be easy if we just did it like that? Can you try it real fast?”
‘Just’ seems to be a favorite word. Anytime someone uses it, they don’t mean ‘just’, they mean “just this and all of this too.”
When a client says ‘I need you to make a change’. It would make all the difference if they said ‘Could you please make a change’.
Yeah, I know I need to get over it but man ‘need’ drives us crazy.
When collaborating with others – especially when designers and programmers are part of the mix – watch out for these ‘’dirty’’ four letter words: Need, Must, Can’t, Easy, Just, Only, Fast.
They are especially dangerous when you string them together.
Of course they aren’t always bad. Sometimes they can do some good. But seeing them too often should raise a red flag. They can really get you into trouble.
It’s not four letters but I would add ‘truly’ to the list. It’s a pointless word that signals to me that I should distrust everything else you’re saying. “We truly need this feature for the next version.” Uh, no.
Truly is definitely another red flag.
Additionally, other words that should raise a red flag are:
Possible, Almost, Under, Elephant.
It’s less about the vocabulary and more about the intent. I’ll wholly grant, though, that “easy” is dangerous, because it mostly gets used to mean “easy for me, because you’re the one doing it”.
Same thing on our project team, some words are practically forbidden (mainly the dutch version of just).
Three letter word I hate is ‘but’.
Example with a four letter word. “But can’t you … “
“Want” is another.
Especially in the hands of people who think “I want” makes their request impervious to cost, time and resource constraints.
Would ASAP count?
Those might be bad words in a request, but they’re pretty good in a response.
“Oh, you must really need that. I can’t believe we didn’t already think of it! Should be pretty easy to do. Just give me 10 minutes.” “Only 10 minutes? Thanks, that’s fast!“
Actually, the one that has stood out to me in multiple positions, that is an immediate red flag, is anyone who says “Can’t we just….”
Especially when said in front of a client.
The boss says that exact quote all the time.
How about this: “Just focus on what you can do fast, and deliver only what the client needs.”
Let’s take commonly used words and make them scary and avoidable!
“Just” caries with it a sense of simplicity and speed. It packs all of the punch of “easy” and “fast” and can also imply incompetence. Every “just” costs $10,000 minimum.
So what words do you use in place of these?
Yeah, those comments pop up a lot in your forums, under feature requests. It’s gotta drive you nuts.
One of the longest design job came from a client who “just” wanted a “simple” invitation done. Well over 12 hours and at last count 8 drafts later, we arrived at an invitation that should have taken an hour.
@Gabe: The goal should be eliminating those words and the the phrases that make them dirty, not replacing them.
Yeah, I’m not sure I’m buying this as something that can be avoided. Everyone in the room is speaking from their own perspective and using words that have different relative meaning to themselves vs. what it means for others. I say easy all the time.
It’s what my brain tells me I should say. Why? - because I think easy is a term that most reasonable people would assume to mean - “not hard.” Uh oh, that’s only relatively meaningful also!
This topic got me thinking enough to write about it. It’s people expressing their desire to achieve something, but not knowing how to express it.
Overtime you help the client to express things to you better, but it’s not the clients job to start off ‘right’ from the get go by not using those words (heck I actually like to hear need vs want, it helps prioritise).
It’s us (as developers, business analysts) jobs to ellicit those requirements properly from the clients, they’re paying us to be the experts, and part of that is listening and taking what they tell us and translate it into what is needed to be written.
Yes.. you are right..
Anything Goes is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The original book was a collaborative effort by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, heavily revised by the team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. The musical introduced such songs as "Anything Goes", "You're the Top", and "I Get a Kick Out of You."
Since its 1934 debut at the Neil Simon Theatre (at the time known as the Alvin) on Broadway, the musical has been revived several times in the United States and Britain and has been filmed twice. The musical has long been a popular choice for school and community productions.
Suresh Shah, M.D., Pathfinders Enterprise, www.mypathways.net