Thursday, March 6, 2014

Meaningless nouns can make you sound phony

Recently I published a post that described how some people try to enhance nouns by placing meaningless nouns after them. For example:
A crisis becomes a crisis situation.
Boarding becomes the boarding process.
Seafood becomes seafood solutions.
Flooding becomes a flooding issue.
An emergency becomes an emergency condition.
Here are five more examples:
A cause becomes a causal factor.
A workplace becomes a workplace setting.
Practice becomes practice exercises.
Preparation becomes preparation activities.
A login becomes a login experience.
This is not a natural way to write (or even speak). If you write like this, you’re probably just unconsciously imitating other writers. But beware: Those writers are poseurs. Adding meaningless nouns is a cheap trick that poseurs use in order to boost their credibility.

However, the trick rarely works. Most people can sense that there’s something wrong with the added nouns. That’s why, for example, you will occasionally overhear passengers at the airport making fun of the phrase, “the boarding process.”

The Takeaway: Don’t lard your sentences with meaningless nouns. Only semi-literates and zombies will accept that as normal writing; all others will think you’re a poseur, a scammer, or some other type of phony.

See disclaimer.

Thanks to Paul G. Henning for pointing out some of these examples.

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