sales event
Another affront to Strunk and White

Where have all the sales gone?

| Have you noticed that nobody has a sale anymore?

It used to be that when a store wanted to pump up sales they held a "sale," lowering prices temporarily to entice buyers who would not be able to resist a good deal.

But no more. Now you must have a "sales event."

Volkswagen sales event

There does seem to be an epidemic of word bloat among car dealers. How bad is it? Search Google images for "sales event" and you will see. They have even established a sub-genre for car sales events!

Lexus sales event

However, car dealers are not alone. Almost every kind of business will hold sales events nowadays.

The one exception seems to be the "Going Out of Business Sale" (Google image search). Perhaps those going out of business feel the extra word is more than their going-out-of-business budget can bear.

Listen carefully to your radio or television and you will probably hear the local meteorologist predict a "wind event" or warn against "flash flood events." Yes, indeed, the contagion has spread widely.

In 1918, William Strunk, Jr published his Elements of Style setting out simple rules of usage, composition, and form. In 1952, EB White expanded the book which became commonly known as "Strunk and White" (Strunk had by then died). Rule 13 was explicit:

13. Omit needless words.

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

"Sales event" is in clear violation.

Last updated on Apr 29, 2016

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