The Write Stuff
June 2014 Volume 10 Issue 6
Choose Your Words Wisely
When I’m asked if I do creative writing, my answer is no. My work typically falls under the heading of business writing, and while that limits my use of flowery language, it doesn’t mean my focus is restricted to producing copy that’s dry and boring. Instead, I need to be creative in using language that’s descriptive without being repetitive or over the top.
It seems many writers aren’t up to that challenge, as I’ve noticed an epidemic of people overusing words to the point that they’ve become almost meaningless. The Huffington Post sees that, too, and recently ran an article listing 12 overused words:
The word that most intrigues me in this dozen is “unique,” which means “unlike anything else,” but now is often used to mean “different, to some degree, from the standard or norm.” Regardless, the phrase “very unique” is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
Your takeaway? Keep this list somewhere accessible and the next time one of these words creeps into your writing, think about whether its use is actually appropriate.
English Teachers May Shudder
One of my faithful readers sent me an article from San Diego Mensa magazine that questions something we all learned in school: you can’t end a sentence with a preposition. The author points out that while prepositions in Latin never appear at the end of a sentence, the rules of that historical language don’t always apply to English. Additionally, some of our greatest writers have had no issue ending sentences with prepositions, e.g., “Fly to others that we know not of,” penned by William Shakespeare. I applaud this development, since I’ve been stymied on numerous occasions to rewrite sentences so they don’t end with prepositions, but aren’t awkward as a result.
Do you have World Cup fever? I was excited to see the U.S. kick off the tourney with a win, but I readily admit I know little about the game the rest of the world calls football. Perhaps you’re in that boat, too, so here are some definitions that may make watching the matches easier:
- Cards: yellow and red, used by the referee to indicate serious fouls
- Dribble: using your feet to maneuver a ball around an opponent
- Kit: a player’s uniform
- Nil: used instead of zero in scores
- Tackle: using your feet to steal the ball from an opponent
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