Monday, December 13, 2010

Wilson & Alroy's Forbidden Words 2011

I used to make a wordcloud based on Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews, starting with every page I've posted a new review to in 2010 and adding the other pages in our fifty most visited. (WordItOut was the only site I tried that didn't choke on the volume of text I uploaded, and the interface is very spiffy, though I don't like the fact that it doesn't combine word forms, e.g. "song" and "songs" count as two different words.) The results are here:

It's no surprise to see words like "record," "album," "tunes," "track" and "guitar" on a record review site, but I do see some words that I'm clearly overusing. So here come the Forbidden Words, which I pledge not to use in any reviews in the coming year:

1. Really - A classic sign of bad writing: if you used the right word in the first place, you never need to put "really" in front of it. Really.

2. Only - Nothing wrong with the word, but I think it appears in plenty of places where other words would do. My use of "just" has been nearly as bad. So expect to see a lot of "solely" in 2011.

3. Including - I'll have to lean more heavily on synonyms like "featuring" or "consisting of," and alternative sentence constructions.

4. Here - There's no "here" on the internet. Sometimes I use it to mean the record being reviewed, other times I mean the site, and still other times I don't know what I mean.

5. Version - Look forward to seeing "variant" or words like it next year.

6. Production - Time to be more specific about what's creating the distinctive sound of a recording. But without going overboard talking about "arrangements" either.

7. Ballad - Originally used to describe a folk tale in song, I've been using it too frequently to denote anything a) slow, and b) about a relationship.

8. Rock - This may be the toughest one to avoid, but I was shocked to see how often I use the word as shorthand for "rock 'n' roll." Let's see if I can go a year without slipping up.

9. & 10. Interesting and Dull - Just a lazy way of saying I did or didn't like something.

And the number one most frequently occurring word on the site (not counting everyday words that WordItOut filters automatically)? I'm not going to eliminate "like" from my vocabulary, but I will try to keep it to a minimum. And feel free to suggest any other word we've overused (one to a customer, please) by posting a comment.


Dronk said...

Generally speaking, I think your writing's great. Maybe you've used the word "fearsome" one or two times too many.

David B. Wilson said...

I certainly have, and what's worse is every time I've used it, it's been in the exact same context. Okay, it goes on the list.