5 terms that make linguists cringe

‘Paradigm’ and ‘proud’ are among the clichés that one speechwriter wants to have curtailed, at the very least.

At Inkwell Strategies, we consider love and tolerance to be of the utmost importance. However, as professional writers, there are some words and phrases for which I have neither love nor tolerance. Whether they’re rampantly overused, constantly misused, entirely too vague or simply really, really annoying, some terms have an uncanny knack for making me cringe.

I’m not about to picket on the National Mall and demand that these words and phrases be scourged from our lexicon and banished from the face of the Earth. (I reserve that honor for “Grey’s Anatomy.”) Still, I would like to see the use of these terms reduced, reformed and, for crying out loud, corrected.

Until that happens, I direct our speechwriting hatred toward the following words and phrases:

1. Paradigm

Somewhere along the way people decided that this multi-syllabic buzzword was a quick and easy way to sound smart without the grunt work that comes with actual thinking. How many times have you heard a significant event be mislabeled as a “paradigm shift” when in reality it’s nothing close? Save for scientists and high school juniors studying for the SATs, next to nobody knows what “paradigm” means, yet it remains a common term in public discourse. This is one paradigm that needs shifting.

2. Proud

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