Having two z’s in one’s name is nothing like Scrabble where they bring high value. They limited my creativity in rhyming as a child for one, and Zil Ociznad, my attempted secret nickname, was all but foiled by the odd z-angles. (Say it out loud, you’ll see.) But letters and, at a larger scale, language give form. We use them to be explicit, and at the next turn, to soften concepts.
We try to be just; we do have hope, and therefore, just and hope, as vocabulary terms, crop up in our nomenclature more often than you might realize.
It’s just a prototype.
It’s just a first draft.
I just put it together quickly.
I’m just sitting in; don’t mind me.
Just go on without me.
I just want to tell you one more thing.
Suddenly we’ve dismissed the sentence. One word has the ability to undermine the power of what could have been an otherwise powerful statement. Paul Rand points out, “The vocabulary of a language of art … this is the language of form.” Of course he was speaking of the aesthetics of visual form and scope of graphic design, but when we speak, we too give form with our word choice, undermining it with “just.” All the while, we hope for impact.
Hope is enjoying a rise in popularity, but we seem to be spending it unwisely. “Hope that helps.” “Hope you enjoyed it.” “Hope that made sense.” As a closing line in a client presentation, as an email closing, or — worse — a closing for a talk when we’re on stage, it seems only natural that we would hope we’re imparting knowledge. But to the audience, “hope” is “just’s” counterpart. We’ve just delivered information, then followed it with a question mark — “hope that helps?” The audience is left to wonder, did it?
Be definitive. You can be more just with less “just” and leave more hope with less “hope-that-helps.”