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THEY use words like albeit, synergy, input and feedback - but they're not big and they're certainly not clever, according to a new book.

Professor Larry Trask has set out to puncture the pompous by identifying the most pretentious words and phrases in the English language.

Marketing and PR people are the worst offenders. But Britain's would-be Del Boys come in for a real hammering too, for using incorrect French phrases like bon viveur when they mean bon vivant.

The professor, an American who has lived in England for 30 years, is fed up with posers mauling the language.

His top hates include expressions like at this moment in time, instead of simply saying now.

But the worst culprit of all, he claims in his book Mind The Gaffe, The Penguin Guide to Common Errors in English, is the word feedback.

He claims it is "the number one pretentious word in the language today".

He added: "No page of bureaucratic prose can be constructed without it, regardless of the content, and regardless of whether there is any content."

Equally disliked is the word input which seems to be increasingly popular among politicians.

It was common mistakes by his students which first alerted Professor Trask to the litany of language clangers.

Other hates include using the word paradigm when example would do just as well.

And the pretentious will always say communicate rather than simply say, tell or talk.

Professor Trask, 57, added: "Even university graduates with good degrees often find themselves with a command of standard English that is at best inadequate and at worst distressing."

Of Del Boy-style fake French, said: "English has curiously invented and adopted some French expressions which do not exist in French."

Though few may throw in words like Mange Tout Mon Ami into the conversation, like the hero of Only Fools and Horses, many use bon viveur and nom de plume.

What they mean is bon vivant and nom de guerre.

Ah well, c'est la vie.


1 Aforementioned

2 Albeit

3 At this moment in time

4 Communicate

5 Empowerment

6 Epicentre

7 Exponential

8 Feedback

9 Fortuitous

10 Hegemonic

11 Input

12 Interface

What's the worst you've heard? Do you have any er ... feedback ... er ... input? Write to Pompous Words, Daily Record, Central Quay, Glasgow, G3 8DA or email
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 18, 2001
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