12 January 2010

Americanisms

I love the Economist's style guide, particularly their advice on Americanisms. Writers are instructed in part:
Try not to verb nouns or to adjective them. So do not access files, haemorrhage red ink (haemorrhage is a noun), let one event impact another, author books (still less co-author them), critique style sheets, host parties, pressure colleagues (press will do), progress reports, trial programmes or loan money. Gunned down means shot. And though it is sometimes necessary to use nouns as adjectives, there is no need to call an attempted coup a coup attempt or the Californian legislature the California legislature. Vilest of all is the habit of throwing together several nouns into one ghastly adjectival reticule: Texas millionaire real-estate developer and failed thrift entrepreneur Hiram Turnipseed...

Do not feel obliged to follow American fashion in overusing such words as constituency (try supporters), perception (try belief or view) and rhetoric (of which there is too little, not too much—try language or speeches or exaggeration if that is what you mean). And if you must use American expressions, use them correctly (a rain-check does not imply checking on the shower activity).
I wonder how accurate these warnings against the language of my nation really may be. I guess I have to admit they're probably "spot-on."

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