In terms of a response

A couple of definitions for “wordsmith”:

1. A fluent and prolific writer, especially one who writes professionally.

2. An expert on words.

The following quote specifically addresses superfluous, and apparently non-expert verbal speech, but I filed it under the category of “wordsmith” (a recent categorical addition to the blog):

“In March, 1974, the White House press secretary, Ron Ziegler, explained a request for a four-day extension of a subpoena from the Watergate prosecutor for certain files. The extension was needed, Ziegler said, so that James St. Clair, President Nixon’s attorney, could ‘evaluate and make a judgment in terms of a response.’

We are all of us ready to man the barricades for the right to evaluate and make a judgment in terms of a response, but Ziegler could have said that St. Clair wanted more time to think about it. That he didn’t is a commentary on the state of language in the United States, and the state of the language is a commentary on the state of our society. It must be obvious that our society, like our language, is in serious trouble when a man who represents the President speaks of evaluating and making a judgment in terms of a response” (Edwin Newman, Strictly Speaking, pp. 13-14).

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