There are No Reliable Words

To write or even speak English is not a science but an art. There are no reliable words. Whoever writes English is involved in a struggle that never lets up even for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective, against the encroachment of Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up.
— George Orwell

Love this quote. This is exactly why a good business analyst will find ways to use visual models to increase the precision and clarity of documented communication. You and I can look at the same paragraph of text and come away with very different mental models of what the words describe.

If I sketch what I understood, then we can begin to see and meaningfully discuss the differences in interpretation. Using visuals is a way of calibrating shared understanding. Combining words with visuals can eliminate much of the ambiguity springing from having “no reliable words” as Orwell describes.

4 Comments

  1. Hits the nail right on the head, eh?…(speaking of worn-out phrases 🙂

    Seriously though, this is poignantly true. I think my peers have finally began to understand how important it is to utilize modeling/visuals (wire-frames specifically).

    1. Haha! Yeah, I love that quote. It applies every bit as much, if not more, today than the day he said it!

      It’s good times when peers members begin to come around and understand that the traditional “big thick doc” is great for cataloging requirements, but next to useless as a communication tool!

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