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Take an adjective (implacable) or a verb (calibrate) or even another noun (crony) and add a suffix like ity, tion or ism. You’ve created a new noun: implacability, calibration, cronyism. Sounds impressive, right?

Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings:

The proliferation of nominalizations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and abstraction.

The sentence above contains no fewer than seven nominalizations, each formed from a verb or an adjective. Yet it fails to tell us who is doing what. When we eliminate or reanimate most of the zombie nouns (tendency becomes tend, abstraction becomes abstract) and add a human subject and some active verbs, the sentence springs back to life:

Writers who overload their sentences with nominalizations tend to sound pompous and abstract.


 

Comments

I am sorry, zombies eat flesh,but its Vampires that suck lifeblood.

I mean, its not like these monsters aren't on TV every 15 minutes. They even put them in books for those that don't have Cable.

http://www.amazon.com/Pride-Prejudice-Zombies-Dreadfuls-Classics/dp/B005GNJ6M4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1343153933&sr=8-2&keywords=pride+and+prejudice+and+zombies

Happy Birthday Norm!

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