When Words Collide - One Woman's Fight to Change the Word

This Bag Is Not A Toy

In a world where television advertisements are created with a range of budgets ranging from ‘stick figure cartoons’ to ‘let’s use CGI, we have to use up the extra million’, some products come across as pretty high-tech. Consider a toy that represents a flying character of a popular movie franchise that I will not name, because I do not want to risk being pinpointed by their legal department. Therefore, the Toy That Shall Not Be Named will be called ‘Toy’.
I watched an ad on television last night and was impressed by this toy that flew, shot lasers and bullets and sounded really dangerous! Imagine my disappointment when I read, at different times during the ad, the disclaimers: ‘Toy does not fly on its own’, ‘Toy does not shoot real lasers’, ‘Toy does not shoot real bullets’ and ‘Laser sound effects added’.
Now I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted to buy a child a toy that shot real lasers, flew on its own (this is implying that the Toy has AI and really flies on its own volition), shoots bullets (no bullies will dare touch the kid that owns Toy!) and sounds like it is shooting lasers while it is really shooting lasers. Wouldn’t any kid love that? Maybe, but no parent who wants to remain healthy and whole after telling their child to do their homework would.
Do manufacturers really think that we are so amazingly stupid that we believe that toys now contain NASA Star Wars capabilities? For $19.99?
Perhaps this is part of some master plan that includes dumbing the population down through all aspects of the media until we at least believe that others are incapable of reason when choosing toys for their children. Imagine the conversation: “Ooh, let’s get THAT for little Johnny!” “No, dear, look at what it can do – we’ll have to wait until Johnny can get a gun licence and some fighter pilot training.”
Here’s a wild idea for an advertisement – have the child actually playing with Toy and using all its real attachments and sound effects in a real-life situation. The manufacturer may protest that an ad with all the extra bells and whistles (that are not actually included in Toy) is a representation of a child’s imagination, but surely that is something that cannot be portrayed. Who can quantify fantasy? Perhaps the creativity of the toy designer and that of the advertiser are completely at odds. Perhaps neither of them even come close to a five-year-old’s scope of imagination when playing with Toy.
Yes, there are legal implications, but I am certain there is no magistrate on Earth who would accept the argument, “I deserve a refund because the ad showed Toy flying in space and shooting lasers, and once out of the pack I realised it did not have deep space capability.”
I might explore this a little further – this is certainly an aspect of advertising that bears research!

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University Study – Read the Material!

You’re at the beginning of a new semester, and collecting all the materials and textbooks you will need for your subjects. Many of your resources will be given to you as part of the subject itself – not only the book of readings supplied but also in the form of podcasts, videos and lists of references for further reading.

If this is your first semester, it could be tempting to ‘start off right’ and buy a slew of wonderful stationery, colourful and fresh, to help you to stay organised. Let me tell you: if you are not already organised, pretty stationery will not automatically make you organised. It just looks good (so it does work if your aim was to simply use stationery that looks good!).

I know. I’ve been there. The pages are soooooo clean; they are just waiting for fantastic ideas and amazing insights to be laid down upon them – building blocks for the greatness that will be my work! Um. Well, they look nice.

They are also amazingly expensive, and take money away from the important stuff – textbooks and reference books. Now they are expensive, but they are far more useful. You can write your notes on a sixty-seven cent writing block from the supermarket just as easily as in a leather-bound notebook, but there is NO substitute for the recommended textbook/s your subjects require. If you are not referencing the texts in your assessments your tutors are going to be asking ‘why?’.

The fastest way to get an overview of the material is to set aside a day or two of your spare time to read through the readings (skim through to get a feel of them if there are way too many), the synopsis of your subject and the textbook/s. No, you don’t have to read the whole textbook!  The easiest way to get a grip on a book’s subject matter is to read the table of contents. You can also read the index and, if the book has one, the glossary. The glossary in particular will give you a good idea of the keywords, professional jargon, language and tone you are to use in your assessments.

Read through the list of assessment tasks (if you get them ahead of time), so you can manage your study and research activities more effectively. In this way, your use of time will be structured and focussed.

Getting set up to attack your work in this way will take effort and organisation, but will be well worth it; you will be to pick up on the information that will assist you towards your goals (gathering material that will aid you in passing the assessments).

Remember the old adage – ‘Well begun is half done’.

Posted in Academic

One Little Mistake Can’t Hurt

You’ve finished your article, assessment or report and reread it once or twice.  It took longer than you expected, and there is a pile of unfinished work on your desk (or the weather is beckoning you to come outside for a while).  You think, “It looks okay – there are no huge errors or I would have picked them up in the read-through.”

So you save it, send it off, and carry on with your day, knowing that even if there is a mistake or two, they can’t change the state of the nation.


Here is an article I stumbled across recently that shows the effect of one mistake in a government form.  The letter ‘s’ was inadvertently added to a company name, and the repercussions were considerable!  Click on the link and be shocked…

How a typo destroyed 124-year-old company Taylor & Sons 

Errors and inconsistencies in your own work might not obliterate your company, but they can cause confusion and extra work while you track them down and correct them.  They can also create the impression that your work (although fine in itself) is executed in a sloppy or slapdash manner.  Going the extra mile and ensuring that you have enough time to polish your completed work will give an additional dimension of technical perfection – those reading your writing will not want the added distraction of negotiating spelling and grammar errors.

Allowing your readers to move smoothly through your reports without those little ‘speed-bumps’ will help them understand your proposals and ideas more readily.

And you won’t be decimating any century-old companies.



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