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Friday, June 18, 2010

Empty Words

We use certain words often and hopefully. We intend these words to convey something unspecified yet powerful. Those vague, unspecified words prove problematical.

To me, words like wonderful, terrific, and awesome convey little of what a writer intends. Their respective derivational seeds have grown through usage into nondescripts. All three of these words—you can make your own list— connote no more than good. In speech, bolstered by intonation and body language, these words produce more effect. For writers, though, they represent weak, slack options.

These words fail because they no longer anchor to any firm impressions. For instance, wonderful. When you use the word, do you mean “full of wonder”? Really? Your product, service, or opportunity is really full of wonder, like Alice’s adventures down the rabbit hole? Naw.

Let the excitement ride in the words themselves, not in the ringing blandishment of received locutions. Write right.

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