Monday, March 29, 2010

A few pet peeves (1)

Today I am listing a few pet peeves.

They’re not my pet peeves; they’re pet peeves of Joseph Sobran (pictured), a veteran columnist and a careful writer. In a September 4, 2008 column titled, “Annoying Words,” Mr. Sobran wrote, in part:

How many times have you heard someone say “prior to” instead of “before”? “Prior to” has its proper place, as when we say that something is logically prior to something else, but as a rule “before” is better to indicate temporal order. “It happened a week prior to my birthday” is sluggish and pretentious.

. . .

Some words are not exactly wrong but are terribly overused: “reinvent” is one, “resonate” another. Celebrities who try to change their public appearances or “images” are said to be reinventing themselves. It also seems that “resonate” has no useful synonyms.

. . .

It’s amazing how many people say “on a daily (or monthly, or annual, or regular) basis,” when they could simply say “daily,” or “monthly,” or “yearly,” or “often.”

Many of these gaffes arise from the desire to sound “official” or vaguely authoritative by inserting needless and supposedly impressive verbiage. Some result from obvious confusions, such as “perimeter” and “parameter.” But most result from a simple failure to think.

The Takeaway:
Think. Use a dictionary. Frequently ask yourself, “What am I really trying to say?”

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