Does the American population need to become more expressive? I don’t know, but I think the jury’s still out on that.
Happy Change of Venue Friday. Today I share an odd news story about a new way some kids are being taught to write. If I could boil it down for you, it would be: “Fancier words, please.”
I honestly want to know what you think. But I won’t hide the ball: This sounds pretty awful to me.
Here is part of the story:
English teachers were once satisfied if they could prevent their pupils from splitting infinitives. Now some also want to stop them from using words like “good,” “bad,” “fun” and “said.”
“We call them dead words,” said (or declared) Leilen Shelton, a middle school teacher in Costa Mesa, Calif. She and many others strive to purge pupils’ compositions of words deemed vague or dull.
“There are so many more sophisticated, rich words to use,” said (or affirmed) Ms. Shelton, whose manual “Banish Boring Words” has sold nearly 80,000 copies since 2009.
As someone I follow closely said. “This pretty much goes against every guide to good writing, fiction or nonfiction.”
And for journalists, the idea that you should say “exclaimed” rather than “said” could get you fired. After all, the goal is to report in a straightforward way, minus the spin that words like “squawked,” “bellowed,” and “intimated” might … intimate.
Of course, if kids want to make their creative writing more evocative, have at it. But adding $5 words when a nickel word will do isn’t helping anyone.
But maybe I’m just being overly pusillanimous.
Have a great—and thesaurus-free—weekend.Follow @azatty