The Fool Celebrates National Grammar Day
Which irks you most?
* A company that uses humongous bonuses to incent (or even incentivize!) its bankers to lend as much money as possible, regardless of the borrowers' financial situations. … Maybe big-bank shareholders are ready to vote in this informal poll.
* A business leader who thinks he's so cool he can use words like "funnest." … Even those who love Apple CEO Steve Jobs might cringe at this.
* A "Warrant Buffet" where, apparently, people go for a snack before turning themselves over to police. … Oh, who's going to bring the hammer down on a couple of typos?
* The odd use of words in the examples above. … Ding, ding, ding!
Jargon, hype, obfuscatory language, nouns turned into verbs, misplaced commas, sentences ended with a preposition -- these are all things up with which investors should not put. We need straight talk to make good decisions about where to put our money.
I got to thinking about this because today is National Grammar Day! (Quick poll: Does Grammar Girl (a) need a life, or (b) deserve a gold medal?) Perhaps Fools will let Strunk and White edge out Buffett and Munger for a bit.
And the words of former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt can delight us.In 1997, Levitt told a consumer affairs committee: "It is possible that no document on Earth has committed as many sins against clear language as the prospectus. The prose trips off the tongue like peanut butter. Poetry seems to be reserved for claims about performance, and conciseness for discussions about fees."
[Now let us brag: In 2000, Levitt declared that The Motley Fool is "as close to being an effective investor advocate as any organization in America."]
OK. Go ahead and light up the comments section below with the mistakes I've made in this post as well as your pet peeves about the way people in finance and investing communicate. Don't forget your best examples of corporate word-soup.
TMFMiloBreathed (Kris, Motley Fool copyeditor)