August 31, 2009
Red Alert: Crap Ahead
Stock phrases are all the vogue these days in the world of Standardized Testing and Empty Writing. Generic fluff really annoys me. It annoyed me when I was a student trying to read articles and get to the point. It annoys me that this horrible habit of bad writing is being not only passed to a new generation, but intentionally ingrained into them. Its kind of like the 5-paragraph essay: it is a great little crutch to get kids started in thinking about the structure of writing, but too many of them get stuck there, never to actually understand the purpose of writing and communication.
Here’s some popular red flags for “here comes some empty crap I slapped together to get some credit”:
This is a question that can have many different answers.
(Really? I wonder if that might be why I asked it…)
The threshold problem with this is…
(What is a “threshold problem”? I get this a lot from non-native speakers and students from China and Taiwan. What is this supposed to mean?)
How we consider this question depends upon our point of view.
(Yes. Yes it does.)
In my opinion….
(Unfortunately, this is rarely followed by an actual, original, thoughtful opinion.)
This question isn’t easily answered…
I know my idea might be preconceived, but…
(It is. Trying thinking about the material instead of just spouting off at the mouth.)
Defining art would be like defining love…
(Give me a BREAK)
Don’t worry, there are lots more. I’ll add as I get slapped with them.