The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search

OGDEN AND RICHARDS                          59
symbols as defined by Ogden and Richards. These are the times that it is essential to find descriptive words that would be acceptable to any observerregardless of his purpose, regardless of his attitudes, etc. House. Five rooms. 60 x 150. Two bedrooms. Who could quarrel with this? The symbols are impersonal. And the reference of symbol to thing is subject to verification by anyone who cares to check.
Maybe you think it is easy to make impersonal statements. It isn't. We express our selves every time we describe something. Our purposes color our words. Our slant creeps inalmost in spite of everything we can do. The well-trained salesman has come to regard such bias as a fault. But even at this semantic-wise date1958 many salesmen do not know a slanted statement when they hear one (and more about this later!). I had a group of thirty such men who came to the University to learn to sell better. They were amazedand skeptical, I might addwhen I suggested that the first task was to learn to report facts without "selling" them. For these men, everything they had to offer was "the best" "the most durable," "the most efficient" etc. To come clean with bare statements of facts seemed to them a waste of time. Nor could they do it! It took about three months before they got over the habit of using emotive language. Only then did they come to realize that strictly symbolic language is, frequently, the most powerful kind of persuasion. In this day, when the buyer knows more than the salesman about the market, competing products, etc., the salesman does well to respect his intelligence by a quiet statement of facts.
The salesman is not alone in his verbal habits. All of us use words that are laden with emotive content. It re-