Stamp out edubabble 1

February 2, 2007

A sentence from Samuel Beckett's Murphy came to mind on reading David Wilson's welcome article (Opinion, January 26): "Those little phrases that seem so innocuous and, once you let them in, pollute the whole of speech."

In an age of ecological awareness, it's curious how little attention is given to the pollution of our linguistic environment.

Poisoning "quality", and the other now warped locutions Wilson mentions, may not have the eye-catching drama of an oil spill, but Beckett is surely right about the deadly cargo such seemingly innocuous things may carry.

Our ability to deal with real blots on the landscape will be hampered if the landscape of language is corrupted in this way.JIt's shameful that universities, of all places, should have let in so many of these deadly "little phrases" with so little opposition.J I would happily join Wilson in his proposed boycott.

"Prestigious" is another term he might have added to his list of vacuous drivel.JAnyone poised to use it should note the advice given by Strunk and White in their The Elements of Style (a wonderful antidote to "edubabble"): "Often an adjective of last resort. It's in the dictionary, but that doesn't mean you have to use it."

Chris Arthur
University of Wales Lampeter

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