by Jennifer Stewart
Did you know that the English language has an estimated vocabulary of 800,000 words? (Words R. McRoberts) We have words to describe every object, movement, feeling and thought on the planet; we can pinpoint each little nuance of meaning, simply by choosing the right word for the right spot.
Language isn't something that remains static - it's a living thing that grows and changes to meet our needs. We create new words to describe and explain new objects and concept - just consider the number of words that have come into the language as a result of technological developments over the past decade. Words like Internet and fax are common-place now; we all recognize the abbreviation WWW and children around the world know what Pokemon means.
Shakespeare, who was one of our most prolific and enduring writers, used approximately 22,000 different words in his published works. Well-educated people today, use about 5,000 different words when speaking and about 10,000 in their writing. Most of us have a 'working vocabulary' of 2,000 (which means that there are over 788,000 words that are gathering dust on the shelves of our minds). Of those 2,000 words, the most commonly used are: the, of, and, to, a, in, that, is, I, it.
Those ten little words (and I do mean little), account for 25% of all speech.
There are fifty words, which make up 60% of everything we say - and only two of these have more than one syllable ... which brings us to ... "stuff".
Why oh why do otherwise professional sites use this term? Surely with 800,000+ words to choose from, it's possible to find a term to describe more specifically what is being offered.
The experts are always advising web owners to offer visitors something for free - and rightly so - this is a unique medium of communication. It's fast, widely accessible and almost ridiculously inexpensive when you consider the technology involved - so it should be used for the free exchange of ideas and information wherever possible.
If you visit ten web sites at random, you'll find more than half will have a link to "Free Stuff" - regardless of the nature of the site, the link will read "Free Stuff".
Looking for graphics? Click on "Free Stuff".
Looking for information on black holes or quantum physics? "Free Stuff' will take you to it.
Need a dietary plan for diabetics? Try clicking on "Free Stuff".
"Stuff" indicates a lazy mind - one that can't be bothered spending a second or two scouring the memory banks for a precise term. Think for a moment about what you are offering for free - then use those words to describe this on your link.
Your visitors will appreciate knowing that they can find:
-a trial program
-a sample sales letter
-a series of articles on how to do whatever it is you do so well
-links to related sites
-a template for a web page design
-a report on how to be a squillionaire
or whatever it is you're giving them.
Don't make them guess.
So dust off the cobwebs and start using a few more words - your visitors will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Article by Jennifer Stewart, of Write101. Jennifer offers home study writing courses and professional writing services - copy writing, editing and proof reading your web pages, press releases, technical booklets, newsletters, business proposals, reports or any other writing projects from her site at http://www.write101.com
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