You know we all have them–some of these peeves haunt us more egregiously than others. I’m not talking about a grammar-grinch attitude. I’m talking about those single linguistic moments that make our hearts burp and our eyeballs turn 20 degrees towards our brains.
Here’s an example: One of the members of my dissertation committee wrote one thing on the draft–a mark at every instance I wrote “quote” with the correction, “quotation,” in the margin. That’s it. OK, there were a few comments on translation issues, but no marginal comments on my ideas, organization, research. To this day, the skin under my right eye still twitches when I write “quote” instead of “quotation.” And the other thing? At the time I wrote my dissertation lo these many paleolithic years, “quote” was acceptable as “quotation.”
There. That was cathartic. So let me share my tic, and it is…the word “truly.”
If I could just wingardium leviosa that word into Pluto’s orbit, I’d be a happy camper.
Or, perhaps I’d be a truly happy camper. Really? Truly happy as opposed to what? A falsely happy camper? A half-happy camper?
“We truly hope you’ll enjoy our new product.” As opposed to not really hoping so much? Or maybe secretly hoping you’ll hate the new product, so the company will fold, and the CEO can go write poetry instead of selling dental orthotics in his family business, which seduced him into betraying his first love of the villanelle.
Most adverbs suck the life out of verbs. Don’t be a language wimp. Stand by your verbs.