Offering help for writers and language learners, this series of posts is a resource for all word lovers.
This week’s words: Eager, Definitely, All talk and no action, Gigil.
Eager – Roget’s thesaurus lists these alternative words: willing, active, fervent, excited, and desiring. Under the sub-heading ‘willing’ are a further 71 replacements, including compliant, inclined, delighted, zealous, keen as mustard, helpful, submissive, dying to, and hoping.
Let’s look at usage for Eager:
‘Jason was always eager to put in extra hours at work in the hope of attracting positive attention from his manager.’
‘Eager to expose their hypocrisy, Beryl designed a poster highlighting the disparity between the words of politicians and their actions.’
We could replace ‘eager’ with ‘keen as mustard’ or ‘dying to’ without fundamentally altering the sense. But the use of any of the other synonyms would either change the meaning or require a restructuring of the sentence.
In common with many English words, this one holds multiple meanings. Here, I’ve concentrated only on one interpretation. Have a go at some of the others. It’s good exercise for developing vocabulary.
Redundancies are words serving no semantic purpose. In speech, they act as spacers, giving the speaker time to think. But in writing, except when representing natural conversation, they impede the reader’s progress.
This week’s example: ‘Definitely’
‘That red dress definitely suits you.’ Here, ‘definitely’ is used to add emphasis and the sentence would lack that degree of approval without it. However, a writer serves his readers better by choosing stronger verbs when possible. The following example says as much without the need for the qualifying adjective. ‘That red dress emphasises all your best qualities.’ Sexist, of course, but it’s an illustration of language rather than political correctness! And here’s the gender balance: ‘Black definitely suits Gordon.’ Try ‘Black looks good on Gordon.’ Or ‘Gordon looks good in black.’
Cliché; a cliché is a stereotyped or hackneyed expression; a phrase, opinion or other element of language that’s been so overused it no longer holds any power. However, clichés usually come into being as the result of their original ability to describe a situation or quality. Their use should be sparing and appropriate; in dialogue, they’re acceptable, providing the speaking character would use such expressions.
All talk and no action: an expression meaning the subject’s good at describing solutions but fails to do anything to solve problems.
‘That George is all talk and no action when it comes to sorting the economy.’ Try ‘George tells us the issues relating to the economy, but does nothing to resolve them.’
Untranslatable words: The world’s languages contain numerous words for emotions (and other things) for which English has no equivalent. I suspect most people are familiar with ‘schadenfreude’, from German, and ‘frisson’, from French, but there are many more, and I’ll introduce some here from time to time.
Gigil (Tagalog) – that overwhelming urge to pinch or squeeze someone because they’re loved or cherished.
Language learners will find a great group page on Facebook.
I welcome observations and suggestions here. Please use the comments section below for your ideas and thoughts.