See also: Disability language best practices
Wordnik shows definitions from multiple sources, so you can see as many different takes on a word’s meaning as possible.
Looks like the thesaurus might be good, will have to try more words 😉
First phrase I looked up was wine-dark which has always stuck with me from the Odyssey, but they didn’t have it 🤷♀️
1. Try not to use the word ‘I’ or variations thereof – ‘me’, ‘mine’ etc. – for a week…
2. For one month commit to including a sentence of beauty in every matter-of-fact, prosaic email you send…
3. For a week de-gender your conversation. Don’t use ‘he’ or ‘she’, only ‘they’.
Our most important job as writers is—I believe—to make language capable of telling the truth. The essayist, activist, and poet Wendell Berry has written about this idea many times. In 2010, he addressed it in a letter to an English teacher and her class, writing: “By taking up the study of writing … you are assuming consciously … a responsibility for our language. What is that responsibility? I think it is to make words mean what they say. It is to keep our language capable of telling the truth. We live in a time when we are surrounded by language that is glib, thoughtless, pointless, or deliberately false.”
We must reject overly easy, overly familiar images and phrases and push ourselves instead for the slight adjustment that can make a world of difference.
This is what it means to defamiliarize language enough to let it hold truth. If the language is so familiar it washes over us, any truth it contains will be lost.
To attract attention, we submit to the “maxim of extravagance.” You really want people to see the taxidermied pig you just bought, so you tell your friend, “Man, this thing is incredible.”
semantic bleaching: when words are overused and wear out their meaning
Encountered the concept, coined by Brian Eno, via Steven Johnson: a “scene” where there’s an extraordinary amount of innovation and creative output, like Silicon Valley over the last twenty years and Camp 4 in Yosemite for climbing
“It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.” — Brian Eno
Ugly word, interesting concept.
This is what companies imagine happening at their companies through open office floorplans 🤔🙄
Kevin Kelly adds some elements or characteristics that help foster scenius:
Can there be virtual scenius? Seems like it applies if that’s where people spend their time.
fascinating research Geoffrey West and others had published on the relationship between innovation and the size of cities. The studies found that cities display a pattern of “superlinear scaling” where creativity is concerned—for instance, a city that is ten times larger than its neighbor isn’t, on average, ten times more innovative; it is actually seventeen times more innovative.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN A HARD IDEA USING ONLY THE TEN HUNDRED MOST USED WORDS? IT’S NOT VERY EASY. TYPE IN THE BOX TO TRY IT OUT.
It’s fun how much the science community appears to have embraced this challenge — the #upgoer5 hashtag shows that multiple conferences have added sessions devoted to this form of science comms.
See also: Clear writing and plain language
In our new report Words that Work: effective language in sustainability communications, a sequel to How to design sustainability that sells, we diagnose what is wrong with how sustainability is written, we explore the origins of the problem, and we provide practical principles for bettering sustainability writing.
As language, perceptions and social mores change rapidly, it is becoming increasingly difficult for journalists and other communicators to figure out how to refer to people with disabilities. Even the term “disability” is not universally accepted. This style guide, which covers dozens of words and terms commonly used when referring to disability, can help. The guide was developed by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and was last updated in the summer of 2021.
Seems to be a pretty comprehensive guide to best practices and terminology to use and avoid.