I’m sure you have your pet-peeve examples of annoying affected diction. Here are three of mine:
Using genius as an adjective: a genius idea.
Following because with only a noun and a period (or exclamation point): I’m late because YouTube.
Combining a carelessly used issues with a carelessly used around: “Someone phoned me earlier to ask me to do some media training ‘around issues around teenagers.’ ”Be careful with spell-checking software!
A journalist meant to write “back in the black” (i.e., profitable again), but in the published article the phrase was “back in the African American.” (Source)
Am I the only reader in the world…
…who thinks Don Quixote is boring? Three times I’ve tried and failed to read the whole novel. I’m giving up on it; I’m 71 and I have many more classics to read than time to read them. All due respect to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. I’m sure the failure is mine.
Slippage: commercial photography
About 40 years ago, I learned that food photographers are paid more than glamour photographers, in part because food photographers have to work very fast. During photo shoots, cool salads can go limp. Hot soup can cool and congeal. Hot coffee and grilled steaks can stop giving off steam. For decades, I admired food photographers for shooting hot foods and drinks while they were still hot and cool ones while they were still cool.
However, somewhere during the 1970s or 1980s, photography began to degrade, along with almost every other profession and activity in America. (Stephen King calls the phenomenon “slippage.”) Nowadays, food photos rarely look right. Dunkin’ Donuts shows you mugs of obviously cold coffee. McDonald’s shamelessly displays a poster showing a cold, congealing burger patty above the caption “Fresh off our grill.” I am afraid to even think about the professions of civil engineering and surgery.
My favorite proverb
I have always loved the Chinese proverb “He who treads softly goes far.” In my thirties I belatedly recognized that it was an apt summary of my own temperament. I usually quote the proverb as “He who treads softly travels far,” which seems to have better meter.
Blocking the distractions as you write
I recently read that Marcel Proust wrote in a cork-lined bedroom while wearing ear plugs. Now there was a writer who valued his concentration! Also, I understand he wrote pretty fast.
The Takeaway: Be here now.