Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Some writers argue that good writing is stifled by the use of "powerless language." According to the Chicago Lawyer, "the main forms of powerless speech are intensifiers, hesitations, hedges, disclaimers, tag questions and politeness. Those most commonly found in legal writing are the latter." The most common uses of powerless language are words like "very," "clearly," "obviously," and "surely." The use of these words can result in a weaker statement than if the author merely makes the assertion without the powerless language even though it seems counter-intuitive. Writers should also avoid the use of space fillers, such as "you know." It makes the author look less knowledgeable and a lack of preparation. Authors might want to consider to stop using disclaimers in his or her writing. Similar to space fillers, it discredits the author by making the author look uneducated. While it can difficult, the removal of powerless language from both a person's writing and speech can make all the difference is so many different aspects of being a lawyer.
See Theresa Zagnoli, Communication Conundrum: Breaking A Bad Language Habit, Chicago Lawyer, Feb. 1, 2013.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.