Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Banned List

From John Rentoul of The Independent, a list of one hundred words and phrases to avoid: The Banned List.

This list should make any writer look at her or his work more critically. I’m guilty of key as an adjective (which I think is fine) and Who knew? (which I’ll acknowledge as tiresome).

Related posts
That said,
Words I can live without

comments: 4

Pete said...

"Key" is perfectly fine as a direct modifier ("a key ingredient") but what drives me crazy is when it's used as a stand-alone ("Their zone defense is very key.") Sportscasters seem particularly prone to the latter.

Michael Leddy said...

Pete, thanks for making the distinction. I use key as a direct modifier. I’m with you: the predicate adjective sounds bad (maybe because that key sounds like a noun missing its the?).

normann said...

I agree that nearly all the words and phrases on the list are trite. There is, however, absolutely nothing wrong with "leverage" as a verb, especially as a past participle (highly leveraged banks, households, etc.), since it is a technical term for describing indebtedness relative to equity (the Basel III capital adequacy rules will include a leverage ratio).

On the other hand, "at the end of the day" has prompted me to reopen my menagerie of peeves. When I hear it, it makes me gag, and I simply cannot abide it in print. I once had to "quality assure" a translation from German of an analysis of two gas contracts under EC law. There was, alas, no quality to assure. The translator was unaware that all European Court of Justice decisions are available on the net in all Community languages at the time in question (from which he could have cut and pasted, rather than produce his own botched mistranslations, which were thus misquotations), as is all EU legislation, that "Amtsblatt" is the "Official Journal", etc. but the offense that really got my goat was that he invariably translated "schließlich" ("ultimately" etc.) as "at the end of the day".

Michael Leddy said...

Norman, I think you’ve made a case for leverage.

I’d like to see all instances of “at the end of the day” replaced by a bit of the great old song “When Day Is Done.”