Monday, September 29, 2003

Garbage Words

Sentences, at their best, contain a logical beauty. Their phrases and clauses lock together, expressing the writer’s thought in an orderly way.

That’s the theory.

Why so many writers for newspapers insist on cluttering their sentences with garbage words – utter claptrap masquerading as content – remains a mystery. Reporters presumably want to let people know what’s going on. So why the mess?

“He was driving to the tattoo parlor.” Turn it into “He drove to the tattoo parlor.”

“The council decided to approve the vitally important measure, absolutely essential to the town attracting Britney Spears for a charity benefit concert.” Turn it into: “The council approved the Britney Spears concert measure, which some members said was important for the town.” (Don’t let the sources determine importance without attributing it to them.)

“News of the report caused Jones to turn red, snort and pound the table while spluttering.” Turn it into: “The report angered Jones.”

Simplicity itself.