Fiction Daily.
A blog on writing, writers and why we read. Posted most mornings by Marion Blackburn.
Words gone bad
Today, a new weekly feature debuts on Fiction Daily: Figuratively Speaking.

Every Friday I'll spend a few hundred words talking about language use, the good, the bad ... and the ugly. Also the beautiful ... poetry, prose, even headlines and marketing writing.

Getting down to business with today's Figuratively Speaking topic: Words gone bad.

FACILITY. A space or the equipment necessary for doing something ... from the sense of “facilitate,” to help make something happen. It comes from the Latin word, facilitas for “easy” in the sense of facile.

So why is everything these days a facility? It’s because we’re afraid to take a risk and call things what they are. We have entertainment facilities ... athletic facilities ...medical facility ... corporate facility ... park facility. Why can’t we just say ...

-- concert hall

-- arena

-- stadium

-- doctors office

--headquarters or office building

-- playground

IMPACT. "Impact” means the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another. Expect a bang.

So why do we say, "When her boyfriend dumped her, the impact on her was obvious."

Did she have a hole in her chest where her heart was ... after he hurled some object at her while they were  breaking up?

The community felt the impact of the court’s decision.

Did the court engrave its decision on a concrete slab and drop it into the middle of town? Not at all.

Those would be impacts.

Otherwise, we have effects and influences ... as in,

His cruelty affected her mood all week.

When her boyfriend called off their wedding, she sulked to her apartment, drew the curtains and refused to see anyone for a week.

The court’s decision influenced city policy for the rest of the decade.

Better yet, why not just say something meaningful?

Here is a most hated example I must say.

GROW. Grow is an intransitive verb that does not take an object unless it's your garden or your hair.

Your puppy may be growing ... your grass may be growing and for some of us, your belly may be growing.

But please, do NOT grow your business. Do NOT grow your investments.

You can grow your roses, your tomatoes and your lettuce. You can even grow your nails.

But please, do not grow your business. Expand it ... enlarge it ... or just invest money in it. The only way you can grow your business is if you put it in your garden and wait. But don't expect sprouts. They just won't grow.

HIS HOLINESS the 14th Dalai Lama made a surprise visit to Minnesota yesterday.
2008-04-18 12:57:45 GMT
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