abstract nouns

abstract nouns
abstract nouns
The Fowlers (1906) and Gowers (1965) warned against the excessive use of abstract nouns, Gowers coining the term ‘abstractitis’ as a label for his disapproval. The principal area of offence is in official documents and formal writing. The Fowler brothers attacked ‘the far-fetched, the abstract, the periphrastic, the long’, and gave the following as an example: The signs of the times point to the necessity of the modification of the system of administration [rewrite as It is becoming clear that the administrative system must be modified]. Gowers gave another example: Participation by the men in the control of the industry is non-existent [rewrite as The men have no part in controlling the industry]. Another example, from a British newspaper of 2002, typifies the obscurity that abstract nouns can produce: Decentralization will mean innovation and experimentation [rewrite as If powers are transferred to local level it is possible to try new and more interesting methods]. The unpacked versions tend to be longer, but unless space is a problem the gain is well worth it.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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