Translation guide for comments from copywriters

Copywriters can be hard to read. What you’re explaining your idea and they make a remark, what do they actually mean? Here’s a handy translation guide.

Tell me more.” That made absolutely no sense.

Whoa, that confused me a little bit.” Using that many jargon words in a sentence should be illegal.

[Blank stare.] I’m sorry, I fell asleep there for a second.

[Flinches.] Not so loud, please, I haven’t had my coffee yet.

Could you explain that over at the whiteboard?” You have bad breath.

Let’s boil that down a bit.” Of the fourteen ideas you just shared, which one do you actually want to keep?

That’s a classic.” That went out of style in the ’90s.

Mild laughter. It’s hard to believe you had the guts to say that out loud.

Loud guffaws. Yeah, that was funny when I heard it in the third grade. Let’s move on.

Thanks, I just got it done at my hairdresser this morning.” Stop being a sexist pig.

“It’s best to stay away from TikTok right now.” Stay in your lane, Boomer.

Let’s go for a little broader appeal.” Every woman who reads that would be offended.

“I think we shouldn’t use the word ‘woke’ in this concept.” I think we shouldn’t use the word “woke” at all, ever, in anything we write in public.

I wonder if we could do that idea with a little different take on diversity?” You’re racist.

Could you build on that a little?” What you said is so obvious that if I write it you’ll look like an imbecile.

Could you describe that a little differently?” That made absolutely no sense.

Could you draw a picture of that concept?” That made absolutely no sense.

Could we get another perspective on that from your colleague?” That still made absolutely no sense.

I feel like we’re going in circles.” There’s not an idea here.

That isn’t as trendy as it used to be.” You’re really stuck on that hackneyed buzzword, aren’t you?

This is going to take a few days to write up.” There’s so little here that I have to do my own research.

I feel like I may have read that somewhere else.” You’ve stolen somebody else’s idea.

I wonder if we could quote someone else?” You really don’t want to look like Musk, Ye, and Trump are your role models.

I’m confused.” You just contradicted what you said two minutes ago.

Topical, yes, but . . .” In a month, no one will remember the trend you’re referencing.

I’d love to get a look at the data.” You just made that number up, didn’t you?

I’m trying to integrate that with what we did already.” You didn’t look at my last draft, did you?

It may be hard to fit this much work into my schedule.” You forgot to pay me again.

Let’s come at this from a different angle.” Everything you shared sounds like crap. Can we start over?

Feel free to add your own in the comments.

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  1. A lot of these ring true for me as a grant proposal developer. I love new ways to say “that made no sense” so I’ll be borrowing heavily from this list. Thanks!