Monday, March 21, 2011

"One Of"

The other day, as always happens this time of year, I received a notice in the mail regarding my life insurance premium which will be due in June. Cost of living went up slightly this past year, hence the cost of living rider in my policy hiked the value of the policy proportionately.

Anyhow, what caught my eye was their boilerplate remark that "the cost of living rider is one of the most valuable features of your policy."

Oh really? "One of"?! I mean, just how many "features" does my policy have, anyhow? Two? Three? Four?

So what sense does it make, in a policy which has only a few features, to call one of them "one of the most valuable features"?

I've noticed this before, the use of "one of" as a way of waffling. Someone will say of a TV show that has only a few regular characters, that so-and-so was "one of" their favorite characters on the show. Really? With only four characters on the show, what does it mean to say that a particular character was "one of" your favorites on that show? Do you mean they were in the top 50%? Or that at least they weren't at the very bottom of the list?

Waffling. Don't want to come right out and say that so-and-so was your favorite, or that the cost of living rider is "the most valuable" feature of your policy. Because maybe it ain't. And at any rate, don't want to run down the other characters on the show, or the other features of the policy-- all two or three of them-- by comparison.

So instead we waffle. Every character on the show is "one of" our favorites. Every feature of the policy is "one of" its most valuable features. Thereby putting us more than halfway toward the world of Lake Wobegone, where all the children are above average.

No comments: