Quote of the Day

“There is one tendency of speech which, though founded on a firm basis of psychology, is constantly spoken of by those who know nothing of the ways of linguistics, as new and vulgar in the extreme. This is the inclination to use words more grandiloquent or more honorable than the occasion calls for or admits. Such a tendency has characterized the languages of all cultivated nations, and seems to be inherent in the human mind. Vanity and social ambition, on the one hand, combine with courtesy and servility on the other, to support and enforce this natural bent, and the disposition to magnify one’s office contributes its share in producing the final result.”

–James Bradstreet Greenough & George Lyman Kittredge, Words and Their Ways in English Speech 317 (1901).

6 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

  • dakini_grl
    February 1, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    What price siplomacy? Or maybe these days it’s spin. This reminds me very much of Mr. Strunk. It’s a constant war over here about the word “utilize…”


  • sarabellae
    February 1, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Some of my favorites:

    due to the fact that –> because
    make your way to –> walk, run, move, saunter, climb … to …
    you’ll find yourself in –> you are in
    There are two soldiers here who shoot … –> Two soldiers here shoot …
    A is comprised of X, Y, and Z –> A comprises X, Y, and Z


  • dakini_grl
    February 1, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Ugh. And of course: “It is estimated that.” It? That? Are you afraid to tell them who you are and what you know? *sigh*


  • mrplanet4
    February 2, 2006 at 10:52 am

    And let’s not forget the twin to that urge of eloquentizing: the desire to avoid cursing. I go back and forth on this a lot. Often I feel like I’m overusing the same few curse words and need to branch out, but you gotta admit there’s a lot of simple, honest power in them that just can’t be matched by deeper explaination:

    The proportion of our misfortune was immense –> Holy crap!
    You disappoint me, sir –> Fuck you.
    Matters took a turn for the worse –> We’re fucked


  • sarabellae
    February 2, 2006 at 12:14 pm



  • sarabellae
    February 2, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    enclosed, please find –> here is
    it has come to our attention that –> we noticed
    on a weekly basis –> weekly
    at this point in time –> at this time; now

    So many of these weak constructions float around in our minds and clutter our writing.


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