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Bran Dougherty-JohnsonAnimator
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HatfarmSound Designer
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Helen SwordEducator
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This lesson was based on an op-ed Helen Sword wrote for the New York Times entitlted Zombie Nouns. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/23/zombie-nouns/

How would you de-zombify the following sentence?  (Hint: Your rewritten version should include a clearly defined human subject – e.g. “writers” – and at least one active verb):  “The anesthetization of readers through an abundance of nominalizations is often the consequence of laziness rather than intentionality.”

Can you rephrase the following sentence in zombie-speak?:  “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.” (Martin Luther King)

For an operationalized assessment of your own propensity for nominalization dependence (translation: to diagnose your own zombie habits), try pasting a few samples of your prose into the Writer’s Diet test.  A score of “flabby” or “heart attack” in the noun category indicates that five percent or more of your words are nominalizations. 

Helen Sword is also a columnist for the Opinionator at NYTimes.com.  Here is an article she wrote about verbifications: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/27/mutant-verbs/

The Writer’s Diet  http://www.writersdiet.com

Little Red Schoolhouse Online http://redschoolhouse.org/drupal/welcome

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