Try to Say Something

Try to Say Something

Replacing vagueness with clarity and specificity

Good writers don’t waste words or write meaningless sentences. They understand that
language that fails to advance the point of their argument will tire or frustrate their readers and cause them to stop reading. Because they know that in good writing every sentence insures that the next sentence gets read, good writers hunt down flabby or meaningless sentences and either rehabilitate them or shoot them through the head.

Flabby or loose writing is not so deadly for audiences that already agree with the writer’s point of view, but when readers are antagonistic or just reluctant to be convinced, which is most of the time, no writers can afford to disrespect a reader’s time or intelligence because, whether they’re aware of it or not, disrespected readers will put down what they’re reading and find something else to do. and when they stop reading us, we’ve lost the argument.

Flabby, wasteful, meaningless Sentence 1:

The author of this article has a lot to say about the nature of the current economy and how it is affected by international competition.

  1. The writer neglects to say anything about the economy.
  2. The writer neglects to say anything about international competition.
  3. The writer neglects to say anything about the author’s opinion.

Meaningful version:
Author Kennedy believes our current weak economy and high unemployment are the direct result of increased international competition.

We could defend Sentence #1 by claiming that it is merely an introduction that will be
rescued from vagueness by details to follow about the weak economy and global competitiveness, except that no reader is obligated to read our next sentence.

Readers need the details when they do the most good. Every promise of information to come is more burden for them to carry. Once their arms are full and we start loading up their backpacks, they will find another guide.

Wasteful, meaningless Sentence #2:
Ever since the events of 9/11, our government and the country we live in have been very much impacted by what we all experienced that day.

  1. The writer neglects to say in any way what events occurred on 9/11.
  2. The writer neglects to say whether the government and the country changed in the same way or in different ways.
  3. The writer neglects to say whether the changes have been positive, negative, or a mixed bag, the same for all, or better for some than for others.
  4. The writer neglects to say whether what we experienced is the same as the events of 9/11 or whether our experience of the events IS the impact.

Meaningful version:
The unprovoked violence of 9/11 struck such fear into Americans that our government imposed a series of severe, sometimes intrusive, security measures on its own citizens.


In-class Exercise

First, we’ll listen to a 10-minute story about the island of Yap and its odd currency to provide the background you’ll need to write clear and meaningful sentences to replace the flabby and meaningless samples below.

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/423/the-invention-of-money/prologue

Examine the sentences below for wastefulness, vagueness, or confusion. Improve each numbered comment by rewriting for clarity and specificity. In most cases, you’ll need to clarify or add details from the story of the people of Yap and its money.

Instructions:
To do the exercise, make a Reply to this post. You don’t need to copy or paste the original comments. Simply number your improvements so I can match them up with the originals. In most cases, I’ve provided two sentences per comment in order to offer more context for the ideas presented. Your improved versions can be as many sentences as you consider necessary.

Complete as many of the following as you can during the class period.

  1. Some people might say that the idea of carrying a big rock around and exchanging it as a form of money is irrational saying it’s just a rock what sort of backing or worth does a rock have? Well if you look at our money it’s the same concept; it’s just a colorful piece of paper.
  2. Even if what money stands for is never seen, the fact that society accepts it, makes the representing factor important.
  3. The idea of the fei—the big rock the Yap use for money—seems irrational to most people who are told the story of the Island of Stone Money and Yap’s form of currency because it is. But to compare this to the currency of more developed countries and say that it is the same concept is not right.
  4. It had been my understanding that in today’s societies, money is really just a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on the society. Like why would five gold coins have more worth in one country than another? There is no method of precisely measuring the value of money.
  5. To me, the most interesting thing about Yap isn’t that they use giant stone discs as money, but that their ownership works on a trust system. It is superficially similar to how we store our money in banks, but banks are also highly secured and regulated by the government.
  6. But, when I began to think about it more I thought about the way we represent wealth. In so many ways the fei for the people of Yap is the same as our currency.
  7. It was understood by the people of Yap that the fei, since they were often large and heavy, did not need to be in the possession of their owners; the Western world acknowledges this idea by creating banks where money is still the property of the person who puts money into the bank.
  8. When someone uses a credit or debit card, there is a similar process of realizing the fact the wealth is no longer theirs and belongs to someone else. We never actually physically hand over the money in a credit card transaction but the money goes from one person to another.
  9. Money does not represent amount of work done, an amount of gold in America’s bank, a quantity of food, or social status. Wealth is to have a lot of money, but if money is meaningless, that would say the same for wealth.
  10. Money itself does not seem to have any value if it is not used to satisfy people’s needs; it is just a form to represent value. The people of Yap view money according to their standard value that have been set and agreed to by their society.

35 Responses to Try to Say Something

  1. Anonymous says:

    5. To me, the most interesting thing about Yap isn’t that they use giant stone discs as money, but that their ownership works on a trust system. The people of Yap all trust each other and use these stone discs as tokens of trust, opposed to money. It is superficially similar to how we store our money in banks, but banks are also highly secured and regulated by the government. We trust banks to keep our money and give us interest, in Yap there is no such thing.
    8. When one exchanges money through a credit or debit card, they don’t exchange physical money but rather a virtual version of it.
    9. Money does not represent amount of work done or an amount of gold in America’s bank, a quantity of food, or social status. It represents your wealth, and wealth is to have a lot of money. But if money is meaningless, it would be the same for wealth.

    Like

  2. comp0327 says:

    1. Some people might say that the idea of carrying a big rock around and exchanging it as a form of money is irrational saying it’s just a rock what sort of backing or worth does a rock have? Well if you look at our money it’s the same concept; it’s just a colorful piece of paper.
    -A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice of currency.

    2. Even if what money stands for is never seen, the fact that society accepts it, makes the representing factor important.

    3. The idea of the fei—the big rock the Yap use for money—seems irrational to most people who are told the story of the Island of Stone Money and Yap’s form of currency because it is. But to compare this to the currency of more developed countries and say that it is the same concept is not right.

    4. It had been my understanding that in today’s societies, money is really just a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on the society. Like why would five gold coins have more worth in one country than another? There is no method of precisely measuring the value of money.
    -Currency holds as much value as we give it.

    5. To me, the most interesting thing about Yap isn’t that they use giant stone discs as money, but that their ownership works on a trust system. It is superficially similar to how we store our money in banks, but banks are also highly secured and regulated by the government.

    6. But, when I began to think about it more I thought about the way we represent wealth. In so many ways the fei for the people of Yap is the same as our currency.
    -The people of Yap see currency and wealth in the same way that we do.

    7. It was understood by the people of Yap that the fei, since they were often large and heavy, did not need to be in the possession of their owners; the Western world acknowledges this idea by creating banks where money is still the property of the person who puts money into the bank.

    8. When someone uses a credit or debit card, there is a similar process of realizing the fact the wealth is no longer theirs and belongs to someone else. We never actually physically hand over the money in a credit card transaction but the money goes from one person to another.

    9. Money does not represent amount of work done, an amount of gold in America’s bank, a quantity of food, or social status. Wealth is to have a lot of money, but if money is meaningless, that would say the same for wealth.
    -Wealth is worth only as much as the money constituting wealth is worth.

    10. Money itself does not seem to have any value if it is not used to satisfy people’s needs; it is just a form to represent value. The people of Yap view money according to their standard value that have been set and agreed to by their society.

    Like

  3. tenere84 says:

    1. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a form of currency.

    2. What matters about money is not what it physically is but how society represents and values it.

    3. The idea of using a huge stone for money is irrational, but it’s nonsensical to compare it to the currencies of more developed countries.

    4. The concept and value of money is relative to every country and has no method of precise measurement.

    5. Their use of a trust system with regards to ownership of money is superficially similar to how modern civilizations bank their money.

    6. The Yap value their currency just as much as we ours.

    7. Western civilization is similar to the Yap in that they agree on the idea of owning money without physically possessing it.

    8. When one exchanges money through a credit or debit card, they don’t exchange physical money but rather the idea of it.

    9. If representing money by a concept rather than work done, social status or material items renders money meaningless then wealth is meaningless.

    10. Money is not valued objectively but relatively; it is valuable to people only if it satifies their needs.

    Like

  4. hershey515 says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice for currency.
    2. The representation of money maybe unseen but the acceptance of society is a beneficial factor.
    3. From an irrational point of view concerning the idea of Fai, people oppose to the island of stone money, but the concept of money differs in other countries.
    4. Money in today’s society is a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on society. Unfortunately, there are no exact measures to measuring the value of money.

    Like

  5. doglover441 says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice for currency.

    2. Society accepts that what money stands for is never seen.

    3. People say that the island of stone money is irrational, but they are not the same as other countries money concept.

    4. Money is a system of numbers that have different values depending on the place, and there is no method of precisely measuring the value of money.

    5. I find it interesting that Yap’s ownership works on a trust system, like our money in banks but with regulation from the government.

    6. We represent wealth very similar to the Yap.

    7. The fei is like the idea of banks with money that is someone’s property.

    8. When using a cedit or debit card the money goes from one person to another.

    9. Money only represents wealth, but if money is meaningless so is wealth.

    10. The people of Yap satisfied their needs by agreeing to the value that has been set in their society.

    Like

  6. 1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice for currency.
    2. The importance of currency comes from the value society gives it, even if the physicality of the money does not exist.
    4. There is no method of precisely measuring the value of money when money is really just a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on the society.
    5. Similar to how we store our money in banks, the Yap’s ownership on currency works on a trust system.

    Like

  7. voxpopuli75 says:

    1. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a currency.
    2. Even though money is abstract, the fact that society accepts it makes it concrete.
    3. The idea of the fei seems irrational because it is but to compare it to our own currency would be
    wrong.
    4. Today, money is an abstract system that has different values based on your society. Why does money have different value in different places? it is impossible to precisely measure the value of money.
    5. What interests me the most is that the Yap currency works on a trust system. it is similar to how we trust banks to store our money.

    Like

  8. ahntkd99 says:

    1. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2. What money stands for is important because society accepts it.
    3. The idea of using a rock as currency is irrational and the comparison to developed currency in other countries is not comparable at all.
    4. Today’s societies, money is really just a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on the society.

    Like

  9. Valcom says:

    1. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2. Society accepts currency and its meaning in society.
    7. Fei did not need to be in the possession of their owners; the Western world acknowledges this idea where money is still the property of the person who puts money into the bank.
    8. When using a credit or debit card, the process is similar in which people realize the wealth is no longer theirs. We never actually physically hand over the money.
    10. Money does not have any value, it is just a form to represent value. The people of Yap view money according to their standard value that have been set by their society.

    Like

  10. lucbe219 says:

    1. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2. If the meaning of money is never seen, society accepts it, and that makes the representation important.
    3. The idea of the big rock the Yap use for money may seem irrational to people who are told the story of the Island of Stone Money. In reality, it would not be accurate to compare this to the currency of more developed countries.
    4. In today’s societies, money is just a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on the society.
    5. The most interesting thing about Yap is that their ownership works on a trust system. It is similar to how we store our money in banks, however, our banks are secured and regulated by the government.
    6. The fei for the people of Yap is the same as our currency.
    7. It was understood by the people of Yap that the fei, did not need to be in the possession of their owners. This parallels the Western worlds use of banks where money is still the property of the person who puts money in.

    Like

  11. 1. A rock is as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a currency.

    2. Society accepts money ignoring what it truly stands for.

    4. Money has never had a true value, it’s only valued at what the country chooses.

    8. When using a credit or debit card, we never actually exchange anything, but the idea of losing it.

    Like

  12. 1.) A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2.) Society accepts physical and non physical forms of money.
    3.) The idea of the fei is too irrational for people to compare this form of currency to that of more developed countries for of currency.

    Like

  13. 1. A rock is no less rational as a colorful piece of paper as a method of currency.
    2. The true value of money is determined by what people accept it to be.
    5. Relying on a trust system for ownership is similar to how banks store money.

    Like

  14. ajuuy7 says:

    1. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2. What money stands for is important because society accepts it.
    5. The governments in Yap and America are similar in that their ownership works as a trust system when it comes to currency.
    10. The people of Yap and America can agree that money is used to satisfy the needs of the people.

    Like

  15. bmdpiano says:

    1) A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    3) The idea of using a rock as currency is irrational and the comparison to developed currency in other countries is not comparable at all.
    6) The way fei’s worth is measured is the same as how we measure our currency.
    8) When using a credit or debit card, the process is the same as transferring wealth from one person to another.

    Like

  16. 1.) A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2.) Although we never see the physical meaning of money, society still accepts it.
    3.) This immeasurable currency that holds a high rank in society is arbitrary in its varying meaning across the world.

    Like

  17. mpsj13 says:

    1. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2. Money holds value because of belief rather than backing.
    3. The rock used by the Yap as money, the fei, holds the same concept of exchange as the use of money.
    4. In today’s society, there is no precise method of calculating the value of money. Money is a system of has arbitrary values depending on the society.
    5. Similarly to how we store money in a bank, the Yap use a system of trust to dictate the ownership of their large rock.
    6. In many ways the fei for the people of Yap is the same as our currency.
    7. The people of Yap understand that the fei need not be moved to transfer ownership just as we understand that money in a bank still belongs to the person who deposited it.
    8. While no money is physically exchanged, we understand that the use of a credit or debit card exchanges ownership of the funds.

    Like

  18. yankeefan25 says:

    1. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    5. Highly secured or not, how we trust the bank to hold our money is no different than how the Yap’s use the honor system to determine ownership of the stone discs.
    8. The use of a debit or credit card never transfers any real money, it rather changes who can claim that money.

    Like

  19. roses0102 says:

    1) A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2) Society accepted the unseen money and doesn’t understand what it represents.
    3) Comparing a Yap to our currency is the same things, because society states it was.
    4) There is no method to precisely measure the value of money, therefore its forever interchanging depending on society.

    Like

  20. 1) Some people might say that the idea of carrying a big rock around and exchanging it as a form of money is irrational saying it’s just a rock what sort of backing or worth does a rock have? Well if you look at our money it’s the same concept; it’s just a colorful piece of paper.

    1) a. A rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.

    2) Even if what money stands for is never seen, the fact that society accepts it, makes the representing factor important.

    2) a. Money is accepted by society even though its value is unseen and practical.

    3) The idea of the fei—the big rock the Yap use for money—seems irrational to most people who are told the story of the Island of Stone Money and Yap’s form of currency because it is. But to compare this to the currency of more developed countries and say that it is the same concept is not right.

    3) a. Using a large rock as currency may seem irrational to some people who first hear of it, but it does not differ from how our society values money.

    Like

  21. Jayv23 says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a colorful piece of paper as a choice of currency.
    2. society accepts currency and what it stands for
    9. money represents currency and wealth. Without money there would be no wealth.

    Like

  22. kraemercali says:

    1. a rock is no less rational than a colorful piece of paper as a method of exchange.
    2. Money has no true value but the acceptance of people makes the handling of paper money important.
    6. Yap has the same concept of currency as us, using physical items to represent a intangible value.
    10. money is just a form of exchange for things with no value other than the ones we hold to it.

    Like

  23. 1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice for currency.
    2. Money is important, despite the value unable to be seen, due to the fact that society accepts it.
    4. There is no method of measuring the value of money as it is just a system of numbers.
    5. It is interesting how Yap uses a trust system to own and store their money instead of using banks.
    8. When electronic banking is used, realizing that the wealth is no longer the users is foreign as the user never physically owned it.
    9. Money does not represent amount of work done, as it is meaningless.

    Like

  24. iamsleepy01 says:

    1) A rock is just as rational as a price of colorful paper as a choice for currency.
    2)
    3) If the idea of fei (Currency for the island of Yap) is irrational, we can say that the currency for more developed countries is also irrational due to its concept of the idea of currency.
    4) The idea of currency in different counties depend on the people’s idea of the value of the paper or coins.
    5)

    Like

  25. 1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice of currency.

    3. Even though the idea of the fei seems irrational to most people who are told the story of the Island of Stone Money and Yap’s form of currency, it is wrong to compare this currency to more developed countries and saying they are the same concept.

    5. Yap’s ownership and trust system is superficially similar to how we store our money in banks, but the difference is that banks are highly secured and regulated by the government.

    4. Money is really just a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on the society. There is no method of precisely measuring the value of money. For example, why would five gold coins have more worth in one country than another?

    Like

  26. bestbaker123 says:

    1. A big rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice for currency.
    2. Society accepts currency and what it stands for.
    6. The way we represent wealth is similar to the way the fei is represented to the people of Yap.
    7. Similar to the way the Western world has banks to store the money of the people, the people of Yap can leave the fei at home but still have possession of it.
    8. Credit cards transfer our currency to someone else but the card never leaves our possession.
    10. The value that money has is determined by the people. The people of Yap view money according to their standard value that have been set and agreed to by their society.

    Like

  27. lazybear8 says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice of currency.

    2. Society will except money without seeing what it truly stands for.

    3. The big rocks the Yap use for a currency is not the same concept as currency seen in a developed country.

    4. There is no method of precisely measuring the value of money.

    5. The Yap trust system works because they are very small population.

    6. In so many ways the fei for the people of Yap is the same as our currency.

    Like

  28. influenza123 says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice for currency.
    6. Although the Yap peoples’ use a different means of representing currency, it holds the same societal value of other currencies relative to the respective society.
    8. Money often doesn’t exchange hands and the use of debit/credit cards has made it so we often don’t see or hold our money.

    Like

  29. lelebxby says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice of currency.
    2. Money is important solely because society accepts it as important.
    3. Saying that Yap’s form of stone currency is equivalent to other more developed countries is completely false.
    4. Because their is no method of precisely measuring the value of money, it’s really just a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on said society.
    5. Similarly to how we give our money to banks, Yap’s currency, interestingly enough, depends solely on a trust system.
    6. The way we treat our wealth is one of the same with the people of Yap.

    Like

  30. morra2024 says:

    6. The underlying principles of the Yap’s fei and our currency are the same.
    9. Since money is inherently worthless, then, by extension, so is monetary wealth.

    Like

  31. 1. A rock is just as rational as a colorful piece of paper for currency.
    2. Money really is what we say it is, so it does not have to be present to have a currency.
    3. Comparing a rock used as currency to paper money is useless, because in the grand scheme of life it means the same as long as we say it does.
    4. Money has no true value behind it. It only is valued at what we say it is rather than a uniform worldwide value.
    5. Banks can be compared to the simple ownership of the fei rocks in which we trust that it is safe with who has it.

    Like

  32. smellycat23 says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice of currency.
    2. Society accepts money that is never seen but it is important to know what it represents.
    3. The big rock, called the fei that the Yap use as money, is irrational to compare Yap’s currency to more developed countries and say it’s the same concept.
    4. In today’s societies, money is really just a system of numbers that has arbitrary values depending on the society. There is no method of precisely measuring the value of money.
    5. It’s interesting that Yap’s ownership of money and how money is stored in a bank is built on a trust system. With the exception that banks are highly secured and regulated by the government.
    6. In so many ways the fei for the people of Yap is the same as our currency because it represents currency like our system.

    Like

  33. athenapup4 says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a colorful piece of paper as a choice of currency.
    5. The trust the people of Yap have about their currency can simply be compared to the trust other countries put into banks.
    7. Western countries helped develop the idea that money sitting in the bank still belongs to the owner through Yaps idea that not carrying their heavy currency on them does not mean they still do not own that money.

    Like

  34. bane1900 says:

    1. The whole idea of money is irrational. The government sets the worth of whatever object its currency is representing.
    2. The fact society accepts the stated value of currency drives the main point home.
    4. Different inflation rates cause different changes in the value of a particular countries currency.

    Like

  35. compclass8 says:

    1. A rock is just as rational as a piece of colorful paper as a choice for currency.
    6. Yap is the same as our currency.
    8. When someone uses a credit or debit card, there is a similar process of realizing the fact the wealth is no longer theirs. Physically you never hand over the money in a credit card transaction. The money still goes from one person to another.

    Like

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