Thursday, April 18, 2013

Here's a quick improve for your writing

When I was a cub reporter on the night shift at The AP in New Orleans I'd show up and find notes from my editor about my work the night before.

One evening the note said, "Is 'host' a verb?"

Well, as Hillary said, what does it really matter?

Actually, it's a noun and a verb. But the question was legitimate. One way we can clean up our language -- and make ourselves more easily understood -- is to stop using verbs as nouns. For one thing, it just sounds stupid.
“Do you have a solve for this problem?” “Let’s all focus on the build.” “That’s the take-away from today’s seminar.” Or, to quote a song that was recently a No. 1 hit in Britain, “Would you let me see beneath your beautiful?”
See what I mean?

Henry Hitchings nails it:
If you find these sentences annoying, you are not alone. Each contains an example of nominalization: a word we are used to encountering as a verb or adjective that has been transmuted into a noun. Many of us dislike reading or hearing clusters of such nouns, and associate them with legalese, bureaucracy, corporate jive, advertising or the more hollow kinds of academic prose. Writing packed with nominalizations is commonly regarded as slovenly, obfuscatory, pretentious or merely ugly.
He speculates on why we do this:
Why say “solve” rather than “solution”? One answer is that it gives an impression of freshness, by avoiding an everyday word. To some, “I have a solve” will sound jauntier and more pragmatic than “I have a solution.” It’s also more concise and less obviously Latinate (though the root of “solve” is the Latin solvere).
Well, read his very fine article and just don't do it. And enjoy this:

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