CLICHÉS: AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE!
Cliché—an overused expression that no longer communicates
It is better to come up with new, fresh expressions than used
Calm before the storm
Dead as a doornail
Easy as Pie
Jack of all trades
Kill two birds with one stone
Law of the land
The road to hell is paved
with good intentions
Slept like a log
Hindsight is 20/20
Offensive Language—language that could
potentially offend readers
Should not be in formal academic writing or
Avoid all profanity and vulgarity
This will help you come across professionally
to your audience (build credibility)
Profanity and vulgarity can be appropriate in
more creative forms of writing, depending on
the audience and purpose.
vulgarity can be
g on the
Standard English—the generally accepted language
of people in academic, the business world, and other
contexts where correct usage is expected.
It is standard because it conforms to established
rules of grammar, sentence structure, punctuation,
People are often judged based on how well their
writing conforms to this standard.
The level of formality reflects the writer’s tone,
his/her attitude toward his/her subject and
audience. The tone may be highly formal, very
informal, or somewhat in between.
Email to a
Essay for a class
Informal writing—uses words
and sentence constructions
close to speech (like slang,
and vague word choice. Uses
first and second person,
fragments, and simple word
It should not be used in
Formal writing— scholarly and sophisticated,
uses technical words, complex sentence
structures, and often third person. Not reflective
Hint: You’ll want to know the difference between
formal and informal writing.
CONNOTATION AND DENOTATION
Sometimes, words mean exactly what we think, and
sometimes they carry baggage that can affect the
our interpretation of them.
Denotation—the dictionary definition of a word (You
can remember it because both denotation and
dictionary begin with d).
CONNOTATION AND DENOTATION
meaning that is associated
with a word. It conveys an
attitude or emotional
overtones (positive or
negative) beyond the literal
Do the words below have positive or
Group 1: Thin, slim, lanky, slender,
Group 2: Shrewd, bright, clever,
brilliant, cunning, smart, intelligent,
WHAT IS BIASED LANGUAGE?
Biased Language—This is language that can
potentially offend certain groups of people
based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity,
political interest, or race
Often occurs with gender (sexist language)
Many of the modern masculine terms in use today originated as gender
neutral terms in Old English
More awareness of social ef fects of this language use in the 20 th
Advocates of non-sexist language, including many feminists, argue that
traditional language fails to reflect the presence of women in society
Over-use of gender-specific pronouns like "he"
Use of "man" to refer to all people
Over-use of gender-specific job titles
Use of Miss and Mrs.
non-parallel usage, such as "man and wife"
Stereotypical words such as virile and ladylike
Advocates of non-sexist language say that sexist language:
It marginalizes women and create the impression of a male -dominated society
It’s patronizing, for example treating women only as marriage material
It perpetuates stereotypes about the "correct" way for a man or woman to behave
BIASED LANGUAGE EXAMPLES
Generic Use—Although MAN in its original sense carried the dual
meaning of adult human and adult male, its meaning has come to be
so closely identified with adult male that the generic use of MAN and
other words with masculine markers should be avoided .
Alternatives: humanity, people, human beings
Original: man's achievements
Alternative: human achievements
Alternatives: synthetic, manufactured, machine -made
Original: the common man
Alternatives: the average person, ordinary people
Original: nine man-hours
Alternative: nine staff-hours
BIASED LANGUAGE EXAMPLES (CONT.)
O c c u p a t i o n s — Av o i d t h e u s e o f M A N i n o c c u p a t i o n a l te r m s w h e n p e r s o n s h o l d i n g t h e j o b
c o u l d b e e i t h e r m a l e o r fe m a l e .
Alternatives: business executive, business person
Alternative: mail carrier
Alternatives: coordinator (of a committee or department), moderator (of a meeting),
presiding officer, the head of the committee
Original: policeman and policewoman
Alternative: police officer
Alternative: congressional representative
These examples were taken from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/608/05/
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH BIASED
Biased language can alienate potential readers.
If you alienate your readers, you lose credibility.
Without their faith in your words, you have lost your
audience and cannot effectively convey your