Monday, September 28, 2009
What's with all the unnecessary gibberish syllables people are increasingly attaching to their utterances? For example the phrase "that said," after making some point. First of all, this is obvious if the listener/reader has been paying attention at all. Second, it usually suggests a prelude to presenting another perspective, which could more meaningfully be conveyed with the word "however" or meaningfully and briefly with "but."
Or how about "It is what it is"? Gee! Really?
How does "in and of itself" differ from "in itself"?
Some forms of "to be able to" seem increasingly to replace "can" or "could." Or to appear for no reason at all, as in "When Gallileo looked through his telescope at the moons of Jupiter and at the motions of the other planets, he was able to conclude that Copernicus was right about the turn of the earth." This could more economically be put like this: ". . . he concluded that . . . ."
In his essay "Politics and the English Language" Orwell called these "verbal false limbs" and warned that exposure to blather like these (and some other forms - see his essay) threatens collectively to make our minds lazy. This is already happening.
These are just a few examples. Here are some more.