Time to Prune Our Vocabulary

Time to Prune Our Vocabulary


For a minute, just try and recollect when you heard proper, formal, nice English sentences in your conversation? I doubt it was recent. There is nothing like “proper” English these days. We hardly think about our usage of words or pick them consciously. Gone are the days when people used to pay attention to using strictly formal or proper English and grammar for writing letters and in official communication. Nowadays sms English is in and slang fill the mailbox.

 

Even when some of us do stick to speaking good English, we tend to get superfluous and use too many words in place of one. And that has a place in dictionary:

 

Tautology: a statement in which you say the same thing twice in different words, when this is unnecessary, for example ‘They spoke in turn, one after the other.’ 

Pleonasm: (technical) the use of more words than are necessary to express a meaning. For example, ‘see with your eyes’ is a pleonasm because the same meaning can be expressed using ‘see’.

 

We are so used to pleonasm that we don’t even realize using or listening to it. We often use extra vocabulary either to emphasize our point or to show good communication skills, whereas it reflects the opposite. 

Following are some common groups of words which can be replaced by a single word in our speech as well as writings.

 

A large proportion of

many

Absolutely essential 

essential

Added bonus

bonus

Advance warning 

warning

At this moment

now

Attach together

attach

By virtue of the fact that

because

Close proximity

close

Close scrutiny

scrutiny

Collaborate together

collaborate

Combine together

combine

Consensus of opinion

consensus

Exact replica

replica

Exactly the same

the same

Free gift

gift

Future plans

plans

In conjunction with

and

In order to

to

In the absence of

without

In the event that

if

In the field of biology

in biology

Minute detail

detail

Most unique

unique

New innovation

innovation

Oblong in shape

oblong

Patently obvious

obvious

Personal opinion

opinion

Placed under arrest

arrested

Prior experience

experience

Prior to

before

Razed to the ground

razed

Red in colour

red

Revert back

revert

Shorter in length

shorter

Subsequent to

after

Successful achievement

achievement

Sum total

sum

Surrounded on all sides

surrounded

Temporary reprieve

reprieve

Tiny speck 

speck

Unexpected surprise

surprise

Very urgent

urgent

Was of the opinion that

thought

With the exception of

except

 

If you wish, you can add your examples in comment.