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'A vile phrase'

Published May 26, 2013 9:39 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

More than 400 years ago, Shakespeare had Polonius in "Hamlet" complain that the word "beautified" is "an ill phrase, a vile phrase." I thought of that critique last weekend in a movie theater when two pre-feature commercial ads by Zions Bank encouraged people to "financialize" their life. What in hell does the vile word "financialize" mean?

Just try to use the word in an intelligent sentence. High-finance bankers have their own language, but telling everyday people to "financialize" while they're waiting to watch "Star Trek"? Come on!

Ever since I and millions of American freshmen had to digest E.B. White's The Elements of Style, I've known to avoid writing "utilize" when "use" would do.

Fifty years ago, grammarians criticized the maker of Winston cigarettes for using "like" instead of "as" in the jingle, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." Winston replied with the ad, "What do you want, good grammar or good taste?"

With Zions' ad, you get neither good grammar nor good taste, just bad, unintelligible language. You'd think a community leader that boasts "We haven't forgotten who keeps us in business" would care about setting a literate example. Nope.

Edward Jones

Salt Lake City




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