Monday, October 19, 2015

Ing-lish Spoken Here

Junior copywriters love to add "ing" to verbs.

Poor souls. 

No one's told them it weakens the most powerful words in our language.

In Writing Tools, Roy Peter Clark gives two reasons why "ing" sucks strength from writing:
  • It adds a syllable. Simple's better. Adding syllables complicates verbs.
  • It often appears in a crowd. Writers who love "ing" tack it onto every verb they use. The words quickly begin to resemble each other.
In a 2002 article in The New York Times, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg first named the latter habit "ing-lish."

The junior copywriter's defense: "Marketing copy breaks the rules. Ing-lish is fine. No, it's even better. It's perfect."

Lovers of ing-lish think "ing" strengthens every verb by adding a sense of the here and now; of progress; of the urgent.

But, before you decide whether ing-lish is perfect, consider a few alternate taglines:
  • Avis. We're trying harder.
  • Nike. Just doing it.
  • California Milk Processors. Getting milk?
  • M&M: Melting in your mouth, not in your hands.
  • State of New York. I'm loving New York.
  • Burger King. Having it your way.
  • Hamlet. Being, or not being, that is the question.
NOTE: Thanks go to graphic designer Clif Dickens for his "honest" tagline above. Enjoy more honest taglines here.
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