Sunday, 15 May 2011

Words and Phrases - Wise Advice

Denis Wright commented on a post over at my pedantic blog, and much of what he said, I thought, made perfect sense:

"Here's some words I warned my students not to use in their essays:
basic, concept, context, emphasise, essential, initial (=first)
however, in terms of, while.
apparently (ironic), curious(ly), devastating, dimension (figurative), formulate (= say), insight,
literally (figurative), precisely, state (= say).
accent, angle, climax, highlight, pinpoint, reroute, slant.
approach (noun), background, bitter, crucial, drastic, emphasise, factors, forte.
key (adjective), picture, situation, stimulating.
connive (= conspire), consensus of opinion, disinterested (= uninterested).
overly, presently (= now), too [I don’t feel too well.”], end product, free gift.

HOWEVER, I use an awful lot of them in my blog these days, just because I can! "

I would try to avoid 'basic', 'initial', 'in terms of', 'devastating' and other hyperbolic adjectives, 'disinterested', 'overly', 'presently' and 'end product' under just about all circumstances. I find the list useful even where I don't necessarily share Denis's dislike of a particular word, simply because it reminds me to think and concentrate as I choose my words - and many of the words, (eg 'however), are ones that I know, as I reach for them, are signs that my argument has a weak link I'm trying to disguise.

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