The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 May 2007

Shticks of one

And half a dozen of the other. Julian Sanchez explains the dynamic:

[I]n addition to the phrases at large in the written culture of the society, there are individual prose-crutches particular writers tend to fall back on again and again. One has to be careful here, because you don't want to lump ordinary elements of someone's personal style and authorial voice into this category — those are good things to have — but rather focus on those little tics that breed laziness by substituting for words or constructions that might be fresher or more apt for the particular piece.

I am nothing if not back-falling, so I went back through about 300 posts and turned up the following rhetorical devices that might be past their sell-by date:

  • Stale phrases like "past their sell-by date."
  • "Presumably." I must be majorly presumptuous.
  • Starting an article with "So I was..." It's at least as artificial as "Two hunters and Helen Keller walk into a bar," and probably not as amusing.
  • "For those keeping score." I used to keep baseball scores while watching the Game of the Week; I suspect this pastime is as dead as poodle skirts.
  • "You might infer from this," followed closely by either "But you would be wrong" or "And you would be correct."
  • "File under..." in lieu of an actual topic sentence.
  • "Maybe it's just me," although "Maybe it's just I" would sound even worse.
  • "As regular readers may recall," usually as a device to avoid having to look up a link in the archives.
  • The blatant Farkism "[fill in name of noted person] was not available for comment."
  • [fill in something here] in general.

Fortunately, no one is likely to accuse me of either "personal style" or "authorial voice."

(Via Jane Galt, who has a list of her own.)

Posted at 11:00 AM to Blogorrhea


TrackBack: 6:43 PM, 28 May 2007
» Schtick Shift from Notes from the Lounge
A couple people have taken up my invitation to analyze their writing in search of recurring stock phrases or constructions as a means of keeping their prose fresh. I'll add links as I notice them if anyone else jumps on board....[read more]

"As regular readers may recall," usually as a device to avoid having to look up a link in the archives.

I resemble that remark.

Oh, and I have yet to see convincing evidence that "majorly" is even a word. As regular readers may recall, that's probably the first time in my life I've ever typed it.

Posted by: McGehee at 7:32 PM on 27 May 2007

I am not afraid of neologisms, even my own.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:06 PM on 27 May 2007

The word IS listed in Merriam-Webster....

Posted by: unimpressed at 10:44 AM on 28 May 2007

The word IS listed in Merriam-Webster....

In the interest of preserving the validity of my prejudice, I shall avoid looking in that dictionary for it. ;-)

Posted by: McGehee at 4:28 PM on 28 May 2007