Don't mangle your English in your reports (1)

OR people need to communicate.  They work with models, and talk fluently in the languages of mathematics and statistics (and other tongues).  Then they need to communicate their results.  Poor communication can kill a project.  I hope that whoever wrote the following was not involved with OR!

(from the label of Tesco's everyday sparkling water:)
Tesco Everyday Value Water is drawn from the mains supply and undergoes a filtration process to remove impurities which improves the taste.  Bottled for convenience.

Let's look at the label again:

Tesco Everyday Value Water is drawn from the mains supply (is taken from a big tap)
and undergoes a filtration process (is filtered)
to remove impurities (tap water has very few impurities, by law)
which improves the taste.   (that is how we justify the price - we think it tastes better, and if we tell you it does, then you will buy it)
Bottled for convenience. (How else could it be distributed?  In tins!)

I used to tell my OR project students that before I read their reports, they had to read them aloud to a fellow student who was allowed to tear their mangled English to pieces.  Maybe Tesco label-writers should be told to do the same?


  1. "Undergoes a filtration process" sounds like the work of a marketing expert to me. The reference to the mains supply, though, might actually be a legal requirement. I seem to recall a bit of a stink over here a few years back caused by bottled water that claimed to be from "artesian springs", melted icebergs or whatever but was actually tap water run through a filter.

    1. Ah, you mean the Dasani product from Coca-Cola. The branding consultants (and I hope that there no OR people were among them!) decided that the word Dasani would suggest "relaxation, pureness and replenishment".

      The product flopped - with two problems. First, that it was mucked about tap water (sorry, C-C said "treated") and not water from some pure mountain stream. Then, the treatment left the water with high levels of bromate - which the WHO does not consider safe.

      Dasani was removed from sale.

      But, back to OR; it is very easy to slip into the jargon and write "We used an optimization model", because that sound more impressive than "We optimized".


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