Blue Star

The Word
By: 
Scott Sullivan
Forgetting my cutlets, I stalked off, grumbling. I spend more time editing out words, I thought, than writing. Which made reading calls to pare down resolutions and banish useless words serendipitous.

What do we call it when the stars align? Serendipity?

So I felt at the crack of New Year’s when I read “Ditch Your Tired Resolutions—and Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet with One Word,” then Lake Superior State University’s 40th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English.

As one who works in words, I like in getting rid of them. I had just returned from the deli, where I’d ordered a couple chicken cutlets.

“How is ‘a couple’ different from ‘a few’?” asked the counter woman.

“‘A couple’ means two,” I said. “‘A few’ is indefinite, like ‘some,’ ‘a lot’ or ‘many.’ Tell me how many.”

She looked sorry she’d asked.

“Don’t get me started on modifiers and intensifiers,” I continued. “‘Kind of,’ ‘some,’ ‘very’ … All are vague, hence junk terms. Use words precisely.”

“Sir, there’s a line forming …”

“Well-placed nouns and verbs have their own integrity!” I raved. “A filet mignon needs no ketchup!”

“I thought you wanted chicken cutlets …”

“Then there’s ‘special.’ If you say something’s ‘special,’ does that mean other things aren’t?”

“Please take your food, sir,” she said, then, “Be patient,” to the line behind. “We have many very good specials as soon as this man is through.”

For full story, pick up a copy of the Jan. 8 Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition.

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