Crisis! Some Letters in Danger!

The Federal Language Commission (FLC) has reported that we are in danger of running out of the letters “Z” and “C.”

Harold C. Higginbotham, Federal Language Commissioner—a recent appointee of President Obama—explains, “the crisis has resulted from excessive use of the words “utilize” and “iconic” and their various forms and derivations.” At the same time, Higginbotham reports there is an excess of the letters “S” and “G.”

The printing industry can do its part to remedy these threats to our beloved alphabet, which is in danger of going from 26 letters down to 24.

As printers, you can do your part to Save the Alphabet.

First, we can save “Z” by reverting to an obsolete word that means the same as utilize. It’s a short word called “use.” Yep, use means the same as utilize. And it’s far less officious.

Speaking of phony officiousness…

Next, the definition of “icon” is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism. More broadly, the term is used in a wide number of contexts for an image, picture or representation; it is a sign or likeness that stands for an object.

“Icon” is also used, particularly in modern culture, in the general sense of symbol—i.e., a name, face, picture, edifice or even a person readily recognized as having some well-known significance or embodying certain qualities. One thing—an image or depiction—that represents something else of greater significance through literal or figurative meaning, usually associated with religious, cultural, political or economic standing.

A recent edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer contained the words “icon,” “iconic” and “iconical” seven times in the first three pages of Section A. By the way “iconical” isn’t even a word. Icon has become a new, trendy word that is being widely disseminated primarily by 5 p.m. newscasters to demonstrate their mastery of contemporary language. It’s a word that sounds phony, so don’t use it. It’s wrong to say, “Crawdad’s Coach Kiquebutt is an icon.”

Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.