Friday, 31 May 2019

Grammar: Pomposity

Pomposity attacks writers of obituaries and nature documentary narration. They also use the kind of banalities I was told to cut out when I was 12, and end up writing like a novelist or journalist from 150 years ago, in a manner which is both overblown and arch. And catching. 

Something like this: No greater example could exist of the dearth of amusements which disrelish or prejudice or both have brought about among us than in the charming town of Brighton, a not only self-asserted, but world-confessed queen of watering-places. If this sparkling, salt-watery gem of a place, this villeggiatura of all the world’s idleness, belonged to any foreign Power, it would be one of the gayest indoor and outdoor bains de mer in existence.

Love way people turn into cod-Jane Austens when writing dating site profiles: "Confess I have a penchant for exploring and am a tad flighty." (@MarkOneinFour)

She became a devotee of, the bell duly pealed, he rested his head on assorted perfumed pillows, he liked to don an oriental jacket, he had a lively appreciation of female pulchritude, experienced at close quarters, forbore to, garlanded with honours, he divided his time between, he slaked his thirst for adventure by, his
annus mirabilis, his world was shattered when, it is testament to his talents that, prompting the wry remark, the deed was done, unclear as to why, until such time as they saw fit to, the less physically taxing métier of poetry, took to task, took up residence, were long viewed solely as, at the helm, assumed the mantle.

Nature Documentaries
The lion is a shadow of his former self, gnawing hunger, the snow still holds sway, beauty where death reigns, doomed attempt to find a greener pasture, teeming with life, summer's bounty/
claim the bounty, ablaze, escape unscathed, easy pickings, too hot to handle, as a new day dawns, the fruits of their labour, aplenty, darkness falls, a devastating intensity, a botanical wonderland, coaxing new blooms from the rich glacial soil, held at bay, reaping the rewards, he resists with every ounce of his strength but the battle is lost. And all large animals are "majestic".

The language is overcooked: "elemental forces", "time of plenty", "spectacle", “formidable”, the monsoon has reached the “peak of its power”, this “vast river in the sky”, the “mighty Amazon river” – you get the picture.

Did you do these exercises at primary school?

A stitch in time saves ______
Poor as a church ______
Look before you ____
Practice makes ________

When writing the voiceover for a nature documentary, please try to forget them all. 

A single strong gust has proved an ill wind for Daisy.
Hunting creatures “fill their bellies”, all kinds of things “are beginning to stir”, and the turtle is “a prized delicacy for the cooking pot”. (“A local delicacy” would do.) "Nature's bounty" usually turns out to be plankton, and the cold, winter and ice must grip.

From Wild India:their most precious harvest” – someone turns over a piece of honeycomb slowly and reverently. Harsh realities are never far away – even the summer nights hold an unwelcome chill. After dark, the village takes on a siege mentality. The villagers close themselves off from some very unwelcome visitors – Asian black bears. It’s not just bears on the prowl. Foxes take their pick… in the shadows an even more sinister presence is lurking.”

Lack of oxygen hasn’t cramped this creature’s style... Conflict is inevitable. (Wild China

If you want to sound pompous, use words and phrases like these: a goodly number, a variety of, above all, additionally, all and sundry, amongst, approximately, as of now, as you would wish, assist, attempt, attired, centre on, expedite, in addition, in conjunction with, in excess of, in respect of, indefatigable, inherent, lest, major, many a time and oft, observed, occur, ongoing, over time, overall, plaudits, potential, prone to, proven, regard, residence, rightfully, special, sufficient, the bulk of, the majority of, various, viable, virtually, wish, with respect to.

End your nature or science doc with the words “…in ways we are only just beginning to understand”.

1 comment:

  1. What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious familiarity about unpredicted feelings.