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WORD CHOICE

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by

Molly J.

on 9 January 2014

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Transcript of WORD CHOICE

WORD Choice
APPROPRIATE LANGUAGE
Does the language suit the subject?
ACTIVE VERBS
Active Voice
GLOSSARY OF USAGE
Commonly Confused Words
affect
effect
to influence
a result
a
used before a consonant sound
'h' words:
used when the 'h' is pronounced
ex. "a house"
'u' words:

used when pronounced as a 'y'
ex. "a unicorn"
an
used before a vowel sound
'h' words:
used when the 'h' is silent
ex. "an honest opinion"
'u' words:

used when pronounced with a vowel sound
ex. "an umpire"
Commonly Misused Words
amongst
anxious
etc.
'among' is preferred in Canadian English
ex. "The children were eager

(not anxious)

to play with the new puppy."
'worried' or 'apprehensive'. Avoid using 'anxious' as a replacement for 'eager'.
'Et cetera' means 'and so forth'. Using 'etc.' at the end of a sentence is not as affective as an example or 'and so on'.
Nonstandard Words
could of
could care less
ain't
'am not' is proper
'couldn't care less' is proper
'could have' should be used instead
* See "A Canadian Writer's Reference" for full glossary
Passive Voice
"Christopher thew the boomerang."
subject of the sentence performs the action
more emphasis on the actor
"The boomerang was thrown by Christopher."
subject receives the action
Active voice is more effective and less wordy
*may be used to focus on the receiver of the action or to put less emphasis on the actor
appropriate for scientific writing because the focus is put on the experiments rather than the researcher
Avoid Jargon, Slang, and Nonstandard English
specialized language used among members of a trade, profession, or group
informal
subject to rapid change
isolated to certain groups
ex. 'sick' is often used as an expression of approval
ex. "I ain't a fool"
ex. "He don't know"
Nonstandard English
Slang
spoken by people of a common regional or social heritage
jargon
designed to impress rather than inform
ex. 'ameliorate'= improve
'facilitate' = help
"The company needs to ameliorate parameters in order to utilize the area effectively."
Avoid Pretentious Language, Euphemisms and "Double Speak"
euphemisms
used to soften words or phrases that are considered too harsh or ugly
adult entertainment
downsize
chemical dependency
strategic withdrawal
revenue enhancers

pornography
lay off or fire
drug addiction
retreat or defeat
taxes
* Do not use euphemisms if they are deceitful or needlessly wordy
"Doublespeak" is purposefully evasive or deceptive language
ex. enhanced interrogation = torture
used mostly in politics, business, and the military
Things to Consider:
*Be consistent with formality
What level of formality is appropriate?
Does the language blend in with the voice?
Will the language engage the audience?
Avoid Sexist Language
Stereotype
A nurse must always wash
her
hands before seeing a patient.
A nurse must wash
their
hands before seeing a patient.
A
nurse's
hands must be washed before seeing a patient.
A nurse must wash
his or her
hands before seeing a patient.
Too Wordy
Using the Plural
Rephrasing the sentence
WORDY SENTENCES
EXACT LANGUAGE
Cut Empty or Inflated Phrases
Empty phrases do not lose meaning removed
apologizing or being uncommitted weakens authority of the voice
be confident and persuasive
Avoid or Remove phrases like:
"In my opinion"
"one must admit that"
"it appears as though"
"it seems that"
ex. "In my opinion, Apples taste better than oranges."
Inflated Phrases
can be reduced without loss of meaning
along the lines of
as a matter of fact
because of the fact that
in order to
due to the fact that
like
in fact
because
to
because

Simplify the Structure
avoid the overuse of 'colourless' words (are, was, is, were)
ex. "The leaves that were on the tree were rustling in the wind."
"The leaves on the tree rustled in the wind."
Use Specific, Concrete Nouns
General Nouns
Specific Nouns
Abstract Nouns
Concrete Nouns
broad classes of things (books)
particular items (fantasy novels)
qualities and ideas (confidence, crime)
immediate sensory experiences and physical objects
(apple, vanilla, sunset)
provides a more vivid meaning
Avoid Cliches
overused
predicable
too well-known to be intriguing
Select Words with Appropriate Connotations
words have a dictionary meaning but also have strong emotions or images that are associated with them
be sure the connotations suit your subject and voice
ex. "The woman
abandoned
her high paying job in order to start a family."
Full transcript