• Monthly Archives: December 2021

New Uses for Function Words: Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

December 30, 2021

When making secondary references to items with a complex sentence, American English (but not only; cf. BBC World Service reporters’ speech) now regularly uses the preposition around  and the prepositional phrase in terms of instead of resorting to locutions like “with regard to” in referencing material that is subordinate to the main content. This regularly results in sentences like “The prospect of development around/in terms of  the unification of the parties.” This syntactic development in the history of the English language is a good example of how linguistic means are always subject to refashioning historically, esp. when it comes to media language.


Overuse of Words and Concomitant Loss of Semantic Power

December 12, 2021

In the American media––particularly the audio and video––there has been a marked overuse of certain words, namely the adjectives denoting something emotionally negative such as dire, heart-breaking, devastating, etc. This is amply illustrated by the reporting in the last few days on the torndaos in the south that have wreaked such horrendous damage.

What the media correspondents fail to realize is that by ceaselessly resorting to the same adjectives they are significantly weakening the emotional power of these words. These news sources would be better served if their producers would take the time and the effort to search for alternative lexical means in describing the effects that the terrible disasters have on the victims and on the public at large.