Beware of nominalizations (AKA zombie nouns) - Helen Sword
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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
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