Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Banned Phrases from 2009

By way of my friend, Kathy, is a Time Magazine (online) list of banned words and phrases from 2009 that you should consider not using. In literature, we call tired old plots tropes. This list has ten words or phrases that are the conversational tropes of 2009. The Times list comes from Lake Superior State University's list, where trope-masters give more background on the selections.

In the list, of course, is the use of Obama as a prefix, such as in obamanomics. My favorite (meaning, I desperately hope it goes away soon), is the use of friend as a verb. That's just wrong. Sad to say, it won't go away until Facebook goes away.

The most obnoxious one that I've never heard in my deep forest cabin is chillaxin', a combination of chillin' and relaxin'. I hope that goes away before I hear it in the wild.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Unacceptability Of Being Inappropriate

Here is an opinion piece about the increasing vagueness of the English language in many parts of the world since the 1980s. Prospect is an English publication launched by David Goodhart, a senior correspondent for the Financial Times, but the article seems to apply equally to other Western English-speaking countries. At issue is social engineering for the sake of political correctness of more exact terms like coarse, tactless, vulgar and lewd for institutional words like unacceptable and inappropriate. According to article writer Edward Skidelsky:

This linguistic shift is revealing. Improper and indecent express moral judgements, whereas inappropriate and unacceptable suggest breaches of some purely social or professional convention. Such “non-judgemental” forms of speech are tailored to a society wary of explicit moral language. As liberal pluralists, we seek only adherence to rules of the game, not agreement on fundamentals.

Several novels will come to mind to readers of speculative fiction. Go here for more on this shift to a neutralized English language, an article the author entitled, "Words that think for us."

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Evolution of the English Language

Here are some tips about how to preserve the freshness of your stories by avoiding words that will disappear from the language. (You especially might want to check your trunk novels.)

Scientists at the University of Reading have discovered that 'I', 'we', 'who' and the numbers '1', '2' and '3' are amongst the oldest words, not only in English, but across all Indo-European languages. What's more, words like 'squeeze', 'guts', 'stick', 'throw' and 'dirty' look like they are heading for history's dustbin - along with a host of others....

Thanks to the recent availability of an IBM supercomputer, they've been able to look back 30,000 years and predict winners and losers of the English language.

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