R.L. Trask on pompous writing …
“There is a certain style of writing that never uses a plain word if a fancier word can be found. In such writing, every teacher is an educator, every doctor is a physician, every weatherman is a meteorologist, people don’t write books but author them, people don’t buy things but purchase them, people don’t use things but utilize them, people don’t eat things but consume them, people don’t talk but communicate, things are never different but always disparate, people are never poor but only underprivileged or disadvantaged, and nobody ever has a mere life or career, but only an odyssey. This kind of writing is pompous, and it is wearisome to read.”
R.L. Trask in Mind the Gaffe: A Troubleshooter’s Guide to English Style and Usage (Harper, 2006), a pithy, alphabetically arranged handbook that tells how to avoid common language pitfalls. The paragraph above appears under “Pomposity.”
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
Comment by Janice Harayda:
Trask’s book is an excellent guide for people who have a good basic command of grammar but sometimes have trouble with individual words or phrases such as “lay” and “lie,” “ensure” and “insure” or “may” and “might.” Because of the alphabetical arrangement of entries, you can dip into it at random whenever you have a few minutes. Dare I say, as I did in my recent review of Schott’s Almanac, that this is a book you may want to keep in that bathroom if not on your desk?