Friday, November 2, 2007

Quickie Post: Be Nice to Your Words

Since Friday has again arrived, I thought we could all use some fun word play. Check out Ann Ewan’s pages about word histories and misuses. She has put up several pages of word origins and examples of word abuse.

Carnegie Mellon University has a page of over-used word pet peeves. They list phrases that have been used until they scream for mercy, then offer stronger—or at least less-worn—replacement suggestions. That list and a Thesaurus will help you avoid the worst abuses.

Calvin College in Michigan has a long page of mixed metaphors sure to entertain you. The ever-witty, or at least curmudgeonly, Jack Lynch points out (on his “M” page) that mixed metaphors can be far less obvious, and offers a set of writing clichés of his own.

These all remind me of a co-worker who, despite my best efforts, continually uses the phrase “mute point”. I pointed out a few times that this would mean a point unable to make noise but yesterday he used the phrase incorrectly on three occasions in one meeting. There’s only so much you can do.