lion among tawny lions and may not be illustrative of the larger observation that I am attempting toshow about the horrible decline of written English.But my main concern is not professional writers since, for the most part--aside from getting paidfor their efforts--they muddle modern English as much as the average online typists.Clearly, the voracious demand for fresh content is the main reason for the proliferation of badwriting. The panting desire for new information for newness sake suffocates clarity, precision, andthoughtfulness, resulting in a breathless laziness. The pressure to appear relevant makes it easier,even convenient for a writer to fill each paragraph with stock words and silly phrases and staletropes. This thoughtless writing method quickly becomes habitual, as it requires memory ratherthan imagination.Since it is easier to describe hell than heaven, I shall list some of the ugly and yet avoidable faultsof the commonly seen bad modern writing:Stale Metaphors. A good metaphor uses vivid language to evoke a visual image. Stale metaphorsand similes have lost their evocative power by failing to create a useful mental picture. Clearlycomparing one thing to another by creating imagery is essential to communication andunderstanding. Without metaphors our active imagination atrophies, thinking stops and the result isgrunting and gesticulating like a child or a lost tourist.Examples:
Melting pot, Ground Zero, the point of no return, slippery slope, a city on a hill, tunnelvision, fog of war, wedge issue, sacred cow, grassroots, Spin, Political football, moving thegoalposts, ax to grind, the ball is in your court, cutting edge of . . .
"The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to
repeat it was possibly an idiot.”
--Salvador Dali (not and idiot, definitely a self-congratulatorydegenerate)Euphemisms. Euphemisms make distasteful words and phrases appear more palatable.Propagandists, advertisers, politicians and charlatans, employ such sophistryExamples:
Armed intervention (war), collateral damage (dead civilians), neutralize (kill), revenueenhancement (taxes), full and frank discussion (honesty), food insecurity (starvation/hunger),downsize (fire//layoff), correctional facility (prison), enhanced interrogation (torture), pre-owned (used) ultimate sacrifice (death), ethnic cleansing (Genocide) . . .
Idiotic Idioms. While ready-made as wine writers that care for clarity should avoid silly, outmodedfigures of speech for engender lazy-minded prose and create a kind of
in thereader. Since idiomatic expressions pervade both speech and writing, without vigilance, if toomany of these decrepit rhetorical stalking horses trot into ones thoughts, they obscure onesmeaning.I suggest that in this technological age a writer who wants to be understood and is not also an avidsailor should quit using the age of sail idioms
(that ship has sailed, any port in a storm, a different tack, left high and dry, show someone the ropes, with flying colors, calm before the storm, in thesame boat).