I liked Eve Tushnet’s list of words she overuses; all bloggers should be required to post one. Here’s mine:

distinguish (also the adjective, “distinguished”)
dispositive (twice is too often)

There’s a glass and concrete tower in Manhattan, 9 West 57th Street, with crossed steel supports on the outside, over the windows, “exposing structure” that it doesn’t need. I write like that. I won’t even get into my colon and parenthesis habits. I can quit any time I want to.

(Update: Mg takes me up on it.)

Aaron Haspel | Posted August 21, 2003 @ 11:51 AM | Language

3 Responses to “Filthy Habits”

  1. 1 1. Ian

    I’m actually shocked I use paretheses as little as I do, because that’s the way I write and think. Statement, parenthetical tangential digression, continuation of statement, more parenthetical rumination, and so forth.

    Of course, I learned in late hi skule to disguise most of my parentheses as commas. The English teacher hated one, not the other, though the substance was the same.

    I ought to go through and see what my verbal crutches are. I’m sure they are legion.

  2. 2 2. John Hinchey


    My own writing also suffers from excessive logical scaffolding–a kind of stylistic exzema–and I have always found that the quickest and best way to ameliorate it–an outright cure seems out of the question–is to read some Emerson. I happen to like the substance of Emerson’s essays a lot, but even if you don’t, you have to admire the way one sentence follows another: he just says what he thinks and move on.

  3. 3 3. Eddie Thomas

    Compound sentences are my curse. The first time I write something, it is almost always in the form "A and B" or "A but B", which creates cumulatively a sing-song effect. I try to edit it out, but….

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