I got a good laugh from this New Yorker blog posted Monday that discussed specific words readers wished they could eliminate from the English language.
“The nominations piled up, in the hundreds and then the thousands,” wrote writer Ben Greenman. “People who like words, as it turns out, also hate words. Superfluous adverbs took a beating: people unloaded on ‘literally’ and ‘actually.’ One woman challenged anyone to think of a case in which a deleted ‘actually’ changed the meaning of the sentence.”
Actually, I find the word very helpful when I wish to begin a sentence disputing a notion that I find inaccurate.
I could go on and tell you the numerous words that readers wanted marked for death including epic, awesome, swag, and bling, or what the magazine finally settled on: slacks, since it had overstayed its welcome.
Missing from the list, however, were words related to health. I can count many that I wish my fellow health reporters would eliminate or at least curtail from their written language. These include “breakthrough” and “magic bullet” (medical advances occur in increments and certainly aren’t magic); I’d also throw in “cure” (few treatments are).
“Life-saving” is another word I’d cut, unless I’m talking about a rescue mission or the Heimlich maneuver. “Definitive” and “proof” might also need to be stricken unless the word “not” or “no” came before them.
Feel free to poke holes in my list or, better yet, come up with some words of your own that you’d like to see deleted from a health reporter’s lexicon. Bombs away.
Deborah Kotz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.