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By Eric Roston

Short words make thoughts clearer. Most people prefer them.

The word "sustainability," as previously reported, is six syllables long, like each of the first two sentences of this post. In the age of Twitter, you don’t get much more than six syllables to communicate an entire thought. When NASA’s Curiosity rover safely landed on Mars early this morning, the agency tweeted “Touchdown confirmed.” After six syllables of “sustainability” you’re left only with glazed-over interlocutors.

The communications firm Vox Global recently surveyed sustainability professionals and concluded: "Sustainability means different things to different people and different companies. And, because there is no universally accepted definition, it makes it more challenging to embed social and environmental issues into a company’s business strategies." In other words, the word “sustainability” is an impediment to successful sustainability, whatever that means.

It’s a shame really. Consider just how much liveliness and information it's possible to pack into six syllables of English:

Drill here. Drill Now. Pay Less.

Go Ahead. Make my day.

It's Howdy Doody time.

To be or not to be.

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.

This is your brain on drugs.

Oops, I did it again.

Gross national product.

That is the question.

May the Force be with you.


"The Star Spangled Banner."

Take me to your leader.

That’s one small step for man.

You don't bring me flowers.

And that's the way it is.

E equals M C squared.

How would you define sustainability in six syllables or fewer?

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-0- Aug/06/2012 16:55 GMT

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