Abusing [American] English

I love reading informative articles and books that use English in fresh ways. Language is a living thing, after all.

But the media are doing their best to butcher it. (Of course, now everyone belongs to the “media.”)

Words we do not need

Here are a few of my candidates for really bad English words and phrases that I hear far too often.

  • In American sports: scuffling instead of struggling. Often used when describing how an athlete is having a bad stretch, performance-wise.
  • In the general media: existential (often in the phrase, posing an existential threat) instead of immediate or current. I saw this again in a New York Times headline just today.
  • From a few decades past, categorically (Especially in the phrase, I categorically deny that ….) when we really mean uncategorically. This one goes back to Watergate days, and it’s still like nails on a chalkboard.
  • In sports and politics: optics when we once used visuals, which is itself a neologism probably driven by slide shows and widespread use of visual media. Why wasn’t image enough?

Feel free to point out my awful uses of English words and phrases.

© Copyright 2017 Philip C. Murray

 

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