Most over-used word of the London Olympics must be … amazing! Just seven letters, and derived from the verb ‘amaze’ – which my Concise Oxford Dictionary explains as ‘overwhelm with wonder’.
Don’t get me wrong, the Olympics was great, and in so many respects. I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw at Stratford – and on TV. The facilities were magnificent, the sporting achievements were Olympian – while the excitement and emotion of victories and near-misses were a huge test for the adrenal glands.
Wonder? Yes. Overwhelming? No.
But listening to the TV commentators, the interviewed Olympians, and the vox-pops in the park, one would think the entire UK population plus the multitudes of athletes and others visiting our shores were all in a trance-like state. Why? Because everything from the sight of David Beckham lighting the first cauldron when the Olympic flame arrived at RNAS Culdrose, to the act of carrying the torch on its round-Britain tour, the spectacles of the opening and closing ceremonies, and the tremendous achievements of so many athletes was almost inevitably described as – you’ve guessed it – amazing!
It’s only a word – so what, I sense you thinking. We have a rich heritage of words, and people in places such as the BBC should be taking a lead in using the full diversity of the language, not repeating a single word to express a range of emotions that may – sometimes – amount to genuine amazement. Similarly, it is sad that excitement seems to strangle linguistic creativity – leaving people ‘amazed’ instead of searching their vocabularies for more varied, more appropriate descriptive words.
So let’s all give a bit more thought to the words we choose, striving for correctness of meaning and greater variety to add colour and depth to our communication. Let’s be more than just amazed!
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.