Friday, April 2, 2010

What is the deal with all this word repetition?

I read a lot of magazines (you might remember this). I’ve noticed a peculiar phenomenon. From month to month, there always seems to be a catch-phrase or word that gets repeated over and over again through each article of the magazine. Maybe it is my proofreader’s eye that makes me notice this. I’m always scanning my own writing for overuse of the same word. It makes you sound like you have a limited vocabulary, and it is just boring to read.

I suppose I notice it a little more when it is words of whose meanings I’m not exactly sure. One month it was “gun metal” this word was used to describe everything in I believe it was Marie Claire (though I’m not positive). I mean everything from nail polish to clothing to the winter sky. Now, I know that gun metal refers to a shiny, metallic gray, but at the same time it’s not very descriptive. From someone not well-versed in weaponry, I picture guns as coming in all colors and mattes of metal from shiny silver, to black, to brass (maybe?) to rifles with wooden handles. Taking the term literally, I just didn’t know exactly what the author was getting at, and why all of the various people from the magazine are using the same word. Is it the editor? Or just water cooler chit chat? It is natural to pick up the language habits and expressions of the people you spend the most time with. I find myself using phrases that my best friends do, and even sounding like people I hang out with a lot just from echoing what we here. Or, is it just the word deemed trendy for the month that everyone wants to use.

To be perfectly honest, this practice gets on my nerves. It takes the originality out of the pieces, and I just don’t get it. Each author should be consciously cultivating their own voice, not leeching that of others purposely. I am currently on the bus on my way home for Easter weekend. I’ve been reading the April issue of W magazine, a feat that should take me just about the 3 hour trip thanks to it’s spectacularly oversize pages and tiny print. I am happy to have 3 hours to set aside to spend on one of my favorite subscriptions.

However, it’s starting to get on my nerves. The past 3 articles I have read, about widely varying subject material (1. Alexander McQueen and his tragic death, 2. Rich Clients of Neiman Marcus, 3. How QVC is arguably becoming a luxury arena) have used the word “hard sell” in various contexts. Once again, it’s a term that I get the general gist of, but its not until the third article that I find a definition of the term, which makes me guess that this writer is the one who came up with the idea to use it in the first place. I just find it irritating that it has been in all three articles. Granted, this is the shopping issue, and wrapped up in shopping is selling and the various techniques to do it, but be a little creative. I’m sure I could think of many other ways to describe what a “hard sell” is without using that little two word combo that by this point I just find obnoxious. AND all of the articles are by different authors, I flipped back to check. I plan to ask my sister who is nearly finished getting her PhD in Psychology what the basics for this phenomenon is. Stay tuned.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails