Change is inevitable, the popular maxim that has stood the test of time from one generation to the next generation, extending to every sphere of life. The language of mass communication, English, especially so, to the Anglo-phone countries cannot be an exception. Changes are bound to occur from time to time. In other word, there is always room for improvement to fast track the medium of interaction to make life easy-going for all. According to the language experts, water tight scripts are easier to follow or understand than complex and long winding writings. And so, try and keep it short, simple and straightforward to the point or subject you intend to put out to the reading and listening publics. These calls for economy of words, short paragraphs, and when possible, engage only one, two to three-syllable words for better understanding of the message.
Too much of verbosity and use of what many may consider as ‘big grammar’ or flamboyant words is a distraction that is capable of denying the listener or reader the joy of getting the information clearly and digesting it without having to struggle to make sense out of it. That brings us to what the masters and purists of the language refer to as loose and redundant writing that can be improved on. Cut away unnecessary attachments; keep it short and simple for the understanding of all, including the young minds in kindergarten class. There are plenty of them, but for this exercise we may limit it to those words recycled every now and then on radio, television and the newspaper. The spoken word takes much of the bashing and abuse. We are however, restrained and do exercise care when it concerns the written word. In writing, one can have the luxury of a second thought or chance to rewrite as many times as possible, but not so when speaking.
One will never have that chance to edit or retract anything said off-hand without memorizing or reading from the paper. Now let’s consider these lengthy phrases and see how we can cut them short and create more impact. Expressions such as ‘under privileged,’ ‘under the circumstances,’ for instance, are considered stale but are still in use till date. The journalist and the reporter need to do more by discarding these hackneyed phrases and go for something fresh. The statements, ‘under privileged,’ and ‘under the circumstances,’ some of us know, have lost their bite. Instead, consider the phrase, ‘less privileged,’ if need be, but if I were you I will go for these one to two syllable words, ‘poor/deprived/ masses,’ as a replacement for the out of favour expression, ‘under privileged.’ ‘Under the circumstances,’ is yet another loose phrase that should not cross one’s mind. The English purists have nullified it as too lengthy and weak. They approved the statement, and a better substitute, ‘in this/that case,’ as more functional and impactful than the ‘under the circumstances,’ phrase.
We can also consider the following expressions as weak and lengthy in the spoken or written English. For example, the phrases, ‘utilize,’ ‘valued at,’ ‘voiced approval,’ ‘was a witness of/to,’ ‘was of the opinion that,’ ‘was suffering from,’ ‘when and if,’ should be shunned, engage smarter and less than three-syllable words such as ‘use,’ for ‘utilize,’ ‘worth, cost,’ for ‘valued at’ ‘approved,’ for ‘voiced approval’ ‘saw, witnessed,’ for ‘was a witness of ’ ‘believed, thought, held,’ to replace ‘was of the opinion that,’ ‘had,’ to substitute the lengthy phrase, ‘was suffering from,’ ‘if,’ for ‘when and if.’ Again, step down the over kill expressions, ‘which included,’ ‘whole of,’ ‘went one’s way,’ ‘weather conditions,’ ‘will be the speaker at,’ ‘with the exception of,’ ‘with the minimum of delay,’ ‘with the result that,’ and instead prefers the shorter and easy to assimilate alternatives and be current. Rather than speak or write ‘which included,’ ‘whole of,’ shorten it to ‘including, comprising,’ ‘whole of ’ statement can equally be contracted to read ‘all.’ It is better expressed to say ‘went’ instead of ‘went one’s way.’ Don’t talk about ‘weather conditions,’ simply speak ‘weather, climate.’ Substitute with ‘will speak at, guest speaker,’ and dump ‘will be the speaker at,’ phrase. Similarly, ‘with the exception of,’ with the minimum of delay,’ and ‘with the result that,’ phrases can be cut down to read, ‘except,’ ‘as soon as possible, swift,’ and ‘so that,’ in that order.