Common Writing Mistakes Lesson 22 Using Exact Language (Chapter 38 Little, Brown


Writing Process

Descriptive Essay

Narrative Essay

Exemplification Essay

Personal Essay

Common Writing Mistakes

Writer s Prompt:
‡ With air pollution always a concern, write a list of examples and/or reasons why or why not cars should be banned from metropolitan cities.

‡ Read Exemplification in GW starting on page 145. ‡ Using your own words, write a definition of exemplification.

Assignment Review
‡ Chapter 38 Little, Brown; exercises 38.1 and 38.4 on page 520 and 523

Whenever we come upon one of those intensely right words [...] the resulting effect is physical as well as spiritual, and electrically prompt.
Mark Twain, William Dean Howells

Using Exact Language
‡ To write clearly, choose the right word to fit your meaning exactly ‡ Don t worry about this during the drafting phase ‡ Revision and/or editing is the time to worry about word choice simply flag those words that aren t quite right

The Right Word 
Always appropriate:
‡ Standard American English 

Sometimes appropriate:
‡ Regional words and expressions
±Drewes; Dogtown; The Hill

‡ Slang
±The 411; borrow the porcelain; he s such a larry; ain t no thing but a chicken wing; skates

The Right Word
‡ Colloquial language
±words used in different parts of a city, town, country that mean the same thing but they use a different word or expression. ±In West Virginia any kind of soda is called a coke. In Kansas City soda is called pop.

The Right Word
‡ Neologisms
±a new word which only a few may understand

‡ Technical language
± The retch connects to the protzer and then the guzi propels the zimmerschietz

The Right Word
‡ Euphemisms
±the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.2.the expression so substituted: To pass away is a euphemism for to die.

Examples of euphemisms
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. garbage man old people pregnant the dead burier asylums imprisoned Sanitation engineer Elderly A bun in the oven Deceased Grave worker Mental institutions Sent up the river

Rarely or never appropriate:
Nonstandard dialect ‡ Like any dialect, a nonstandard dialect has its own vocabulary and an internally consistent grammar and syntax; and it may be spoken using a variety of accents. Describing a dialect as "nonstandard" is not to imply that the dialect is incorrect or inferior. Also prestige dialects may be non-standard. Double talk ‡ 1.speech using nonsense syllables along with words in a rapid patter. 2.deliberately evasive or ambiguous language: When you try to get a straight answer, he gives you double-talk.

Rarely or never appropriate:
Pretentious writing
‡ "So say you take a word like, I don't know, 'talk.' Now, if you wanted to say that with sort of a pretentious air, you'd say 'converse.' It's not necessarily wrong. But it has a sort of a snobbish air to it that's not really casual as American English is. But if you wanted to go over to the junk English side, you'd say 'you know, we need to dialogue.'

Biased language:
‡ sexist, racist, ethnocentric, etc.

The late George Carlin on Euphemisms

Denotation and Connotation
‡ Denotation the thing or idea to which the word refers the meaning in the dictionary minus the emotional associations of the word ‡ Connotation many words carry associations with specific feelings. These words can shape readers responses and can be a powerful tool for writers.

For Example
‡ "slim," "scrawny," and "svelte"
± all have related denotative meanings (thin, let's say) ± but different connotative meanings. ± And if we're trying to pay someone a compliment, we better get the connotation right.

For Example
‡ All of the following words and phrases refer to "a young person," but their connotations may be quite different depending, in part, on the context in which they appear: ± youngster, child, kid, little one, small fry, brat, urchin, juvenile, minor. ± Some of these words tend to carry favorable connotations (little one), others unfavorable (brat), and still others fairly neutral connotations (child). ± Calling a young person a brat lets our readers know at once how we feel about the rotten kid.

Avoiding Clichés
‡ In groups of 1, 2, or 3 do the handout no clichés

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