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Some thoughts about language
Friday, November 23, 2012

I learned that the word ”very” is a typical worn out word which should – if possible – be replaced by a synonym to enrich the text. This should mean that a text with a lot of “very” indicate an inexperienced writer while a text with words like “tremendously”, “hugely” and “exceedingly” tells me that the writer is on the yellow brick road.

Now, I think “very”, write “very” and then go back and change it into “ever so”, “exceptionally”, “highly”, “notably”, “pure”, “genuine”, “sheer”, “outstandingly”, “prominently”, “remarkably”, “strikingly” or whatever seems fit at the moment.

It feels a bit like body language; if I want to make a confident impression I take a pose indicating this, no matter how nervous I feel inside. Do I become a better writer when I go back and change? Or am I just a mediocre fellow using known tricks to appear as something I am not?

Both yes and no, I would say.

Just as me taking a confident pose making a respectable impression when I’m about to make a speech, it is not a matter who I am and what I feel, but what I produce. It is not me as a person that is judged, but the impression I make. If I listen to an exceptional speaker it is not interesting if he or she spent an hour in the john with bowel problems due to being nervous before entering the stage. Just as much as I don’t need to know how many hours the writer spent on finding the perfect equivalent word for every “very” in the text.

Never the less I would feel like a better writer if I in my mind used a proper colorful synonym for “very”, writing it so in the first place.

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