Last June I ranted about how technical jargon had escaped from industry and was being used to confuse the public.
A few days ago I got a tabloid sized advertising flyer in the mail. An ad on the cover for The Piano Gallery began with a headline of: FORCED PIANO LIQUIDATION.
Then there were two sentences with obscure industry jargon. “Textron Financial is terminating all piano flooring. To avoid penalties and high interest rates, Utah’s Largest Piano Dealer is forced to sell all grand, upright, digital and player pianos floored with Textron.
What the heck does “piano flooring” mean? All I could think of was the scene shown in this video clip from The Fabulous Baker Boys, where Michelle Pfeiffer uses the top of a grand piano as flooring while seductively crooning the song “Makin’ Whoopee.”
“Piano flooring” actually is music jargon for one type of floor plan inventory financing. Under these agreements the finance company agrees to pay a piano manufacturer the wholesale price of a piano on behalf of the dealer, who in turn sells the piano in the retail market. The dealer agrees to pay back the finance company after having sold the piano. Similar inventory finance agreements are used for other products like boats, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles.
They should have said that: “Our problem is your opportunity to save lots of money. We need to sell these pianos immediately, since we lost our financing for keeping them on display in our showroom.”
Alfred Hitchcock used the term MacGuffin to describe a plot device, perhaps an object like secret documents, which is of much more interest to the characters in a movie than to the audience. If it does not benefit your audience, then don’t waste their time by describing the MacGuffin.