I just got back from Inc.‘s GrowCo convention in Nashville. Lots of useful, enjoyable, wonderful stuff there, as always, but I was stunned by how almost every speech by every presenter and almost every overheard or casual conversation was peppered with the word awesome. It was inescapable, like verbal kudzu choking out the variegated richness of the English language–so omnipresent it seemed like an acceptable substitute for just about any word. “Awesome.” “Awesome.” “Awesome.” “Yeah, really awesome, man.” It was like a lingua franca of evanescent mush, a meme of meaninglessness masquerading as communication and cool.
Fact: People in Shakespeare’s time had working vocabularies of around 54,000 words. They actually talked like characters in Shakespeare’s plays. The working vocabulary of the average American is 3,000 words and, I suspect, declining.
So, is “awesomeness” the beginning of the end for nuanced, accurate business communication? Does it render exact words irrelevant, mute, and dead? Does the practicing and practical entrepreneur even need words and vocabulary to be awesome?