Archive for August, 2008

“Less” is no more

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Still obviously the silly season if this story about Tesco makes the BBC news, but interesting for us language nuts: Tesco checks out wording change.

Five ways to put a little rhythm in your writing

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

In my last post I talked about rhythm – and how it feels to have your prose decimated by an editor who’s deaf to the cadences of your carefully crafted prose. There are many ways to put a little rhythm in your words – here I present five things you can do today. (more…)

Can’t you hear? Can’t you hear that it is wrong? (Or why rhythm’s not just for poets)

Monday, August 25th, 2008

I spotted this in Pseuds Corner in the latest issue of Private Eye (asterisks inserted for those of a sensitive disposition):

And worst of all. Dumbest, deafest, s****est of all, you have removed the unstressed “a” so that the stress that should have fallen on “nosh” is lost, and my piece ends on an unstressed syllable. When you’re winding up a piece of prose, metre is crucial. Can’t you hear? Can’t you hear that it is wrong? It’s not f***ing rocket science. It’s f***ing pre-GCSE scansion. I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and I have never ended on an unstressed syllable. F***, f***, f***, f***.

Times restaurant critic GILES COREN rebukes his sub-editors, quoted in the Guardian. (more…)

Real verbs – or how not to write like a bureaucrat

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

In a recent post on his Manage Your Writing blog, Kenneth W. Davis discusses the distinction between “real” verbs and “filler” verbs.

Davis rightly points out that a sentence such as “the committee reached an agreement on the project” is much better expressed as “the committee agreed on the project”. As he says, “The committee didn’t reach; it agreed. Reached is a filler verb; the real verb, agree, has been changed into the noun agreement.”

It reminded me of how bad business writing – otherwise known as corporatese – is awash with filler verbs. In fact, whenever I’m asked to edit a business document I rewrite the copious “filler verb + noun” constructions almost on autopilot. (more…)

So what exactly does a “concept shop” stock?

Monday, August 18th, 2008

My last post about the word “leverage” got me thinking about more words and phrases that should be banned. Here’s another: “concept shop”. (more…)