Monday, May 6, 2013

“Those Irritating Verbs-as-Nouns” – Henry Hitchings

The author Henry Hitchings recently published a thoughtful article, “Those Irritating Verbs-as-Nouns,” about nominalizations: verbs or adjectives converted into nouns. As the article’s title suggests, he discusses the drawbacks of using nominalizations. He says, for example, that “Writing packed with nominalizations is commonly regarded as slovenly, obfuscatory, pretentious or merely ugly.”*

But Mr. Hitchings also discusses the advantages of nominalizations; for example, sometimes they can help you “be more tactful or cautious,” or “sound jauntier and more pragmatic.”

He also gives interesting examples of nominalizations (including reveal) that may sound fresh but in fact are centuries old.

The Takeaway: I urge you to read the entire article. Mr. Hitchings has a keen mind for the finer points of diction. This is the kind of article we professional writers should be reading.

See disclaimer.

*Mr. Clarity was duly chagrined to see “take-away” listed as one of the offending nominalizations; chagrined all the worse because “The Takeaway” is a heading used in every post in this blog.

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