Looking around for readings for my comp classes I found the one I think I want to open with, courtesy of the Vocabula Review. It’s just well, nice. I’ve been told many times to remove certain words from my vocabulary because they are little more than verbal filler, and the article provides a nice explanation why certain words can be problematic for writers. My favorite rant on that score was from Dr. Marc Arnold, who suggested that we remove “very” from our spell-check dictionaries, and when we’ve accidently used it to substitute “damned” for it. I try to follow that advice, but I slip sometimes.

Nice Distinctions cuts quickly to the core of language change, and the resistance to it, and the awkward shifts of meaning that have occurred. The cool thing is that I know that many students will misread even this, and miss the point.

No one can stop the process of change, but these sorts of issues are good reason to choose one word over another, in order to communicate most clearly.

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