Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Around the Word

Hope everybody had a festive Fourth. Here's a few items of interest we found around the Word Wide Web over the holiday break.

ABC schools it's viewers: Christiane Amanpour is widely seen as a smart cookie, but it seems like her producers don't see her supposedly savvy Sunday morning viewers the same way. On this past weekend's show, Amanpour used the word "perspicacious" during an "extremely sophisticated and insightful debate on the importance of the Consititution," writes columnist Matt Schneider for Mediaite. ABC quickly threw up a graphic with a dictionary definition of the word, prompting Schneider to ask, "Were producers worried that the word would fly so far over their audience's head that needed to intervene as a public service?" What do you think? Is ABC trying to dumb down "This Week" or is it fair to assume that most people don't know what "perspicacious" means?

Best-seller blues: Pulitzer Prize-winning books columnist Michael Dirda rattled a few publishing industry cages recently with a recent rant against best-seller lists, arguing that they are "bad for readers, bad for publishing and bad for culture." Dirda points out that the same authors top the list month after month, leaving little space (and few publicity dollars) for break-out authors and experimental works. When James Patterson can reliably dominate the best-seller list, Dirda suggests, why take a risk on a new author? Dirda's proposed solution is to limit each author to one turn at the top, so instead of being a limited list of the same authors, it highlights the hottest new talent. Though this is unlikely to happen, Dirda implores readers to do what they can to "just say no to the insidious dominion of the best seller."

Re-tired phrases: Want a fresh perspective on the most trite phrases? Ask a poet. That's just what the organizers of the Ledbury Poetry Festival in the UK recently did, and their participants came back with a suitably creative list of their least-favorite cliched phrases. "Devastated" -- as in "I was devastated when my flight was cancelled" -- made the list twice, while other noxious notes included "literally," "LMAO," "thinking outside the box" and "the sky's the limit." Which tired words and phrases have you eliminated from your writing vocabulary?

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