Words weasel into our pockets

My whine this time is about “weasel words” – words that weasel their way into corporate speak to justify the opposite of what they say.

Many of your grocery items have shrunk in size while the cost has remained the same.

This is to “improve your shopping experience”, say the manufacturers. Weasel words, because they don’t.
Unilever says their 30 per cent smaller detergent packs “deliver the same washing experience”. Just not as many of them for the same price! 

They have also shrunk the size of their personal deodorant packs by 24 per cent. This “improvement” was “so it would more easily fit in handbags”.

Don’t you keep yours on the bathroom shelf? You’re not going to squirt yourself in public are you? Or roll your underarms on the train? 

Cadbury took a nibble out of its chocolate bars.

The world price of cocoa has remained the same but “its product costs are far more complicated than the price of commodities at a given time”.  Don’t have a bar of that one.

Nestle bit 15 per cent off its Kit Kats saying “the focus of the change was portion size. . . because they had been too high energy”.

You fat kids are eating too much chocolate, so we’ve shrunk the blocks. Give us a break; but let’s not have a Kit Kat. That’s a real sugar hit.

Potato chips have sliced off 11 per cent because their products “continue to be manufactured in Australia from Australian potatoes”. So, demand that our chips come from Brazil. . .  like our coffee, nuts and asparagus. Why should we pay more because our spuds come from Tasmania?

Finally, Edgell reduced the content of its canned corn because, as its director of quality and innovation (!) explained with a straight face, “there hadn’t been enough headspace” inside the cans, causing food safety issues.

This airhead obviously has plenty of “headspace”. This is all part of an ongoing and expensive ACCC inquiry into an “environmental policy” and a “sustainability initiative”. Which means?

Now that should be enough for an entire series of the ABC’s Gruen programs.  And that is what “weasel words” are all about: Utopia.

David Parmiter


Language goes to the dogs

Having read the comments about the English language (Oct), I was prompted to write some of my own “pet peeves”.

How often do we see and hear an adjective used as an adverb in advertisements and every day speech.

For example “drive safe” – not safely; “get money fast” – not quickly.

Also, we do not dance, cook or “up a storm” anything. The word “yes” is overused and incorrectly used, for example   “how are you?”, “yes, good”.

“You know” is an expression used for years and my answer is always, “no, I don’t know”.  Is it any wonder the English language is going to the dogs. Construct a sentence and speak correctly.

Marie Davis


It seems nobody can spell “lose” correctly. Lose is to misplace something, and loose is not tight.
I taught myself as a kid how to know the difference. Loooooose (stretched) and lose, so now you know.

Another thing that annoys me is people at the deli counter. They say “can I get 500g of whatever”. Perhaps it would be better to say “I’d like 500g of such and such”.  

The other wording that really riles me  is “oh my God”.  For example, I watch 60 Minute Makeover and the recipient keeps saying it over and over. I mute the show!

Vivien Wakefield  


Loud and clear

I am amused by Billie Marty’s suggestion that I take on board his (her?) concern about excessive background music on TV, because Billie has already said nearly all there is to say! 

He (she?) has my full support, and this is part of the reason – as well as my deafness – that I always have the subtitles on when watching TV. It’s not usually an option in a cinema where the sound is often turned up too high.

Deaf people need clear enunciation, not volume. My TV whine is more directed against unsubtle advertising commercials that appear to think shouting and hectoring will convince us to buy a product or service. This immediately sends me looking for the mute button on the remote.

Surely advertisers realise this sort of commercial is counter-productive? The only other explanation must be that marketing managers have a low opinion of the intelligence of TV audiences.  Please woo us with soft music, pretty pictures and polite, handsome actors!

Ted Webber


Clarity is not really clear

David Parmiter and Fran Davies are spot on with their comments on the incorrect use of grammar and language (Oct). I was once told by an educator friend that correct use of grammar is not a high priority in schools these days as long as the meaning is clear.

For example, “there’s three apples in the bowl” should be “there are three apples in the bowl” but the grammar isn’t important because the meaning is clear. Everyone would know the bowl has three apples. If this is the thinking, let’s do away with grammar altogether.

Also, I am constantly amazed by the number of people who don’t know the difference between “prostate” and “prostrate”. I’ve lost count of those who have told me poor old so-and-so has prostrate cancer. Out of politeness, I bite my tongue to avoid asking them “is that the cancer you have lying down?”

Graham Miles


Taking a (road) side

In response to Joyce Tozer:  I was brought up in a country area where roads were rather primitive and footpaths not always existent. We were always taught to walk facing the oncoming traffic. It gave me little consolation that I would then be able to see whatever it was that was about to mow me down! However, I survived.

On steps, we were also told to keep to the left as we marched into school, and this maintained order and avoided accidents – until the advent of the teacher who informed the students that those going up were to keep to the left, and those going down to keep to the right, and there was mayhem.

Thus I cannot understand why the people Joyce kept bumping into on board ship were identified as Australians and New Zealanders as if we knew no better.

This “keep to the left” rule also applied to walking on city footpaths, though there was no line down the middle to act as our guide.

Another part of that rule applied to ladies accompanied by gentlemen. The gentleman always walked on the side closer to the gutter, so that if a car passed through a puddle, he gallantly bore the brunt.

Delroy Oberg
No need to be  lonely

I was interested in your recent article re shopping and loneliness, and would like to mention a few things I personally have found were good for getting me out of the house.

I am almost 84 years old and lead a busy life. We retired to Queensland just before I turned 70 and knew no one.  My husband volunteered to help with Meals on Wheels, and through that met a charming man who offered to introduce him to some friends.

This turned out to be the local bowls club, where he was welcomed and immediately joined.

As soon as I found out, I too joined, and in no time had the beginning of many new friendships. This game also provides quiet exercise in the open air while socialising.  Keep moving!

From there we heard about Probus clubs, which are principally for retired people so we joined the local one.

We went on trips every month and in that way explored the Brisbane area and beyond, had lunches and dinners and a meeting with a speaker once a month.  More friends.

Then there is the Bridge Club.  Check the local club for upcoming lessons, and have a go. I now LOVE bridge and play twice a week.

What about a new hobby or skill?  Join  U3A.  Contact them or look on the website and you will find so many options. It costs little to become a member, and only $5 per attendance at the class you choose.  

Once again, I have met a new group of ladies and rekindled an old interest.

I have almost every day filled if I want to, and am active, happy and involved.

Try some or all of these ideas and start to live!

Peita Grant

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