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One of my linguistic pet peeves is when people use words that add no meaning, words that serve as thinking time for the speaker or writer but do not advance the thought.

Watching “Real Time With Bill Maher” the other night, I saw one of his panelists throw the word actually into almost every sentence. I actually am not exaggerating. I actually thought about sending her an email. But then I actually decided, “What’s the point?” It’s actually a verbal tic that she is not even actually aware of. See what I mean? Basically is another filler word equally as popular and vacuous as actually.

I am reminded of a friend’s granddaughter who, at about the age of five, latched onto actually and gave it a good run. When her grandmother asked her what the word meant, Nicole thought seriously about the question and finally answered, “Actually, I don’t know.”

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© Judi Birnberg

One of my linguistic pet peeves is when people use words that add no meaning, words that serve as thinking time for the speaker or writer but do not advance the thought.

Watching “Real Time With Bill Maher” the other night, I saw one of his panelists throw the word actually into almost every sentence. I actually am not exaggerating. I actually thought about sending her an email. But then I actually decided, “What’s the point?” It’s actually a verbal tic that she is not even actually aware of. See what I mean? Basically is another filler word equally as popular and vacuous as actually.

I am reminded of a friend’s granddaughter who, at about the age of five, latched onto actually and gave it a good run. When her grandmother asked her what the word meant, Nicole thought seriously about the question and finally answered, “Actually, I don’t know.”

I address this to all newspapers, all columnists, all reporters:

If something is a lie, say it is a lie. When you say it’s “not factual” or a “falsehood,” or “untrue,” or a “prevarication.” you’re not incorrect, but you are, excuse the expression, pussyfooting around.

If something as important as national pronouncements are “contrary to fact,” why not come out and call them lies? That little word carries much more power than the euphemisms being used today.

How about doing a quick check on your writing? Is it tight and forceful or flabby and weak? Here’s a spot where you can write just about 100 words and have them automatically analyzed. Give it a try:

The Writer’s Diet

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.