“Verbal False Limbs”

OPERATORS OR VERBAL FALSE LIMBS. These save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry.

Characteristic phrases are:

  • render inoperative,
  • militate against,
  • make contact with,
  • be subjected to,
  • give rise to,
  • give grounds for,
  • have the effect of,
  • play a leading part (role) in,
  • make itself felt,
  • take effect,
  • exhibit a tendency to,
  • serve the purpose of,
  • etc., etc.

The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being a single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked on to some general-purpose verb such as prove, serve, form, play, render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining). The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize and de- formations, and the banal statements are given an appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation.

Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases as:

  • with respect to,
  • having regard to,
  • the fact that,
  • by dint of,
  • in view of,
  • in the interests of,
  • on the hypothesis that;

and the ends of sentences are saved by anticlimax by such resounding commonplaces as

  • greatly to be desired,
  • cannot be left out of account,
  • a development to be expected in the near future,
  • deserving of serious consideration,
  • brought to a satisfactory conclusion,
  • and so on and so forth.