Friday, June 2, 2023

“Meaningless Buzzwords”? – Day by day Writing TipsDaily Writing Suggestions

By Maeve Maddox

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I learn {that a} political commentator, whom I cannot title, asserts that 5 specific phrases are “meaningless buzzwords.” Labeling these specific phrases “buzzwords” despatched me to my language sources to find whether or not my understanding of the phrase is defective.

Listed below are definitions from my two fundamental dictionaries.

buzzword: noun, Initially and mainly U.S. a key phrase, a catchword or expression presently modern; a time period used extra to impress than to tell, particularly, a technical or jargon time period.—Oxford English Dictionary

buzzword: noun, an important-sounding often technical phrase or phrase typically of little that means used mainly to impress laymen. —Merriam-Webster

To my thoughts, buzzwords are of two sorts.

One variety—the most typical—is a intentionally pretentious time period used instead of a extra apparent selection. The phrase is completely acceptable in one other, specialised context. For instance, “granular” for detailed or “optics” for appearances.

However residents excited about future Sandy-like occasions want granular specificity.

Optics over ethics by no means ends nicely, and being a jerk doesn’t make you a frontrunner.

The opposite sort of buzzword generally is a new coinage, like metaverse. Whereas buzzwords drawn from skilled terminology or jargon might be changed by extra acquainted phrases, new phrases like “metaverse” have to be outlined by the earliest writers utilizing them. These days, most readers in all probability take the phrase metaverse in stride, however in July 2021, authors of a tech article within the New York Occasions thought it essential to clarify it.

Keep in mind listening to about “the web”? Prepare for “the metaverse.”

The time period comes from digital antiquity: Coined by the author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel, “Snow Crash,” then reimagined because the Oasis within the Ernest Cline novel “Prepared Participant One,” it refers to a completely realized digital world that exists past the analog one through which we reside.

As a buzzword, the metaverse refers to a wide range of digital experiences, environments and property that gained momentum throughout the online-everything shift of the pandemic. –NYT, 7 July 2021.

Buzzwords are a kind of jargon. At greatest, a buzzword describes one thing new that requires a brand new definition. At worst, it’s the sudden use of a phrase out of its regular context with the purpose of dazzling or intimidating listeners.

Now for the phrases that prompted this publish.

All of the phrases listed as “meaningless buzzwords” by the political columnist are omnipresent within the media, however they’re the standard phrases for what they denote: racism, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia.

racism: a perception that race is a basic determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial variations produce an inherent superiority of a specific race.

bigotry: obstinate or illiberal devotion to at least one’s personal opinions and prejudices.

xenophobia: concern and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of something that’s unusual or overseas.

homophobia: hostility in direction of, prejudice in opposition to, or (much less generally) concern of gay folks or homosexuality.

Islamopobia: intense dislike or concern of Islam, particularly as a political drive; hostility or prejudice in direction of Muslims.

The Ngram Viewer reveals an attention-grabbing timescape for the phrases.

The phrase racism has been a major presence in printed matter since 1960. It exhibits a marked plateau within the Nineteen Eighties, a dip within the early 2000s, and a gentle rise from 2010.

The phrase bigotry exhibits a decline from 1826 to 2013 after which an uptick in 2014.

The phrase xenophobia peaked in 2002 and once more in 2018.

The phrase homophobia has been on the rise since 1972, had a slight downturn from 1999 to 2007, when it started a brand new rise.

Latest of the pack is Islamophobia, which begins a dramatic rise in 1993.

The frequency of a phrase within the media doesn’t make it a “buzzword.” A buzzword is shallow and ephemeral. When a phrase begins as a buzzword, like metaverse, after which turns into the principal phrase to indicate a longtime idea, it stops being a buzzword.

I can solely query the commentator’s intentions in dismissing these 5 weighty phrases as “meaningless buzzwords.”

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