America and our speaking and writing


It is rather amazing when you think about how we’ve progressed as a society, culture, and nation.  What is even more amazing is our language, which we often refer to as “English” which is really morphed into American.  We’ve all had someone criticize our oral speaking. “Don’t say um so much”.  Good points.  What needs to be looked at as well is how often we writeand say other words that are vacuous, boring, and just plane nondescript.  Try to take note, if you will,  how much you and others use and misuse the following non-um words.  I thank Deirdre McCloskey for her advice in Economical Writing (sections 25 and 26) for the advice for these suggestions.  Check out her book for a lot of valuable suggestions.

Is: I used it no fewer than 4 times in the above paragraph.  How boring and uninteresting IS this word?

Very: Very has become so overused, every thing in this world is very.  It has gotten to the point in this time in society where I think we tend to just totally overlook it anytime we see the word.

Kind of, Sort of:  Wishy wishy washy.  We need to be confident in our statements or not make them.  If we think something is ugly we should say it, not try to fool people by saying “kind of”.  No one is fooled so we shouldn’t waste our breath or keystrokes with them.

Interesting:  We say things are interesting so much that, similar to very, we ignore it when we see or hear it.  If anything, if we read or hear that a movie is interesting or a person is interesting, we think actually the exact opposite.  I’m not going to be thinking the movie will be interesting, I’m going to be thinking it will be boring.

I could go on and on, just think about it.  Check out McCloskey’s book, VERY good.


4 Responses to “America and our speaking and writing”

  1. Eli Says:

    A challenge to our readers—rewrite the first paragraph of Jason’s post economically! Here’s my attempt:

    Learning to write well is a challenge. I am grateful to Diedre McCloskey for her book Economical Writing, in which she urges readers to use the following words sparingly:

  2. Stewart Says:

    Obey McCloskey as follows:

  3. Jason Says:

    My own attempt:

    English speaking countries, especially American’s, don’t speak or write as well as we should. Dr. McCloskey has it right in her book Economical Writing with the following suggestions and more:

  4. ralph ruben emmers Says:

    as a dutchman I’d say english isn’t as cool as dutch. I think you guys are missing out on some really good humour, intricate insults, abrupt sounds, direct speech, etc. that are impossible in the english language. In dutch just talking formally using the U instead of you sounds funny when done properly.

    About very: I just say ‘ very nice’ in a borat way. It does the trick. My dutch friends used to say ‘ nice’ untill they found it americans like to hear ‘ great’ or the childlike ‘ awesome’. Does american culture enable the constant growth of euphemisms? Maybe it’s part of the american dream.

    Enough of the bashing. I love it here :)

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