Let’s Make It Simpler!

This is a follow-up to Monday’s post, where I discussed an interesting article in The New Yorker: Is the Internet Making Writing Better? Here’s a sentence from the article:

As with online irony, online civility emerges from linguistic superfluity, the perception that an extra effort has been made, whether through hedges, honorifics, or more over-all words.

I would have simplified it: Online writing sounds more polite when you take the time to write more words.

The article goes on to suggest three ways to add those words: “hedges, honorifics, or more over-all words.” Bad advice. The first suggestion – hedging – would weaken your writing.

The other advice is too vague to be helpful. What’s the difference between “more words” and “more over-all words”? And how do you do add words effectively?

Honorifics are titles or words indicating respect. How would you use them?

I’m surprised The New Yorker didn’t send the article back for some revisions.


2 thoughts on “Let’s Make It Simpler!

  1. ja

    I suspect the word “existing” (in this context) means a medical condition that is already documented in the patient’s file. If it isn’t documented, the doctor (rather than a nurse practitioner) should see the patient for diagnosis.

  2. ballroomdancer Post author

    You’re right – that’s what “existing” means in some medical offices. I would prefer something like “returning patients” or “patients under treatment.”

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