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January 07, 2011

Beware Of Banalities

When we speak or write, it is important to keep our ideas and terms fresh and memorable. Few experiences are embarrassing as using a trite...

...commonplace or annoying word or expression.

We all have our (least) favorite words or terms that we find trivial or even insulting. It is always a good idea pay attention when a word becomes so annoying that universities or other organizations put together a list of these words - with a long explanation as to what is so mind-numbing about their use.

Lake Superior State University has put together a list of these words - and my advice is that you should avoid these words in almost any social situation. You can see their list here - http://www.lssu.edu/banished/current.php.

If you look over this list, you will see that some (like "viral" or "epic") are just over-used to the point of meaninglessness, while others, (like "man up") are offensive and vague to the point of incoherence.

"I'm just saying" is in a category of its own for pointlessness. "Live life to the fullest" (common in obituaries) is just plain stupid. How would anyone measure whether one is - or isn't - "living life to the fullest"?

As you write or speak, watch out for these cliche's and over-used terms. They are like dead spots in your language.

As Mama grizzlies would say, refudiate cliche's, "You know what I'm sayin'?"

Send us any links or other resources that you think any teachers, students or even just normal people might find interesting or useful. Let us all know about words that make you crazy, aspects of language and expression you find challenging, and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf is currently a radio host (http://www.tacoma.fm/) and a newspaper columnist http://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/columnists/morf_morford/ and would love to do either one of those somewhere else in the world later this year.

Posted by mmorf at January 7, 2011 10:50 PM


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