Saturday, August 1, 2009

An antology of empty words (1)

Hollowed. Numbed. Killed. Empty words. Beware of them, they signal falseness. Quite often, the surrounding text itself is just as false and hollow - but not always, certainly. They might be used out of obligation, or for wanting to correspond to certain expectations, whether professional (institutionalized expectations), or personal ("I owe the guy a review," or, "I need to write one but this is so esoteric that I must remain at the level of generalities") .

The wooden language - langue de bois - of today (aujourd'hui):

exciting - we had to use some word expressing enthusiasm; but I don't foresee anyone ever opening a bottle of champagne about this.
a triumph! - appears especially in book reviews; most often about scholarly books; nobody will read this outside the scholars who actually subscribe to the particular theory that drives that niche book.
challenging - we will have to deal with this down the road, and will probably fail, or are already struggling with it, with no end in sight.
mission statements written around verbs that end in “-ing” - written by committee; with an eye to would-be donors; on issues that are fashionable at the moment; generic enough to reflect, but not true enough to express, what we really do, everyday.
vibrant - it exists; is mostly mediocre, but it is there; in any case, it's nothing out of the ordinary; it is.
challenging the assumptions - wide eyes, mouth half open, fists half-clenched; probably it also "shakes the establishment."
intriguing - I really, truly don't know what to say about you or about this thing.
to embrace - we do not know how you do that, but you really have to be open minded when you do it.
community - mostly people who have never met, and will never meet; collective noun describing people that have a particular attribute, or behavior, or who knows what, which for some reason is now useful politically (rhetorically).

What else?

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