1. Passero
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    Passero Member

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    Ugly words

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Passero, Feb 2, 2014.

    I was just reading through this forum and found following reply on a recent thread:
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/one-sentence-summary.130419/#post-1192678

    Apparently the word "but" is an ugly word.

    I am working on my very first short story and did a quick search. Found out I have 13 buts in my +/- 2000 words.

    Why is that such a bad word? Only because of the other meaning of the word?

    Any other words I should be aware of?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I would have to say that the comment which you reference in your link is a matter of personal preference and sense of esthetic, which is not something that answers to reason for any of us. I have a few words myself that I dislike for their sound alone and I would be hard pressed to give any better reason than just because. I wouldn't take the comment to be a universal sentiment at all. ;)
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Is it a butt-ugly word?

    I feel it is an exceptional word.
     
  4. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    But is a subordinating conjunction. There is nothing wrong with it. It has a function.

    I would like to hear alternatives and I'll compare them in the dictionary.
     
  5. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    The only reason for calling "but" ugly that I can think of is that new writers will often "explain" the story rather than placing the reader on the scene in the footsteps of the protagonist. And when they do that, they tend to use the word a lot: "But then Sam saw the..." And that's using it as a filter word (also called a crutch word) which can only come from the narrator.

    Of course one of the problems with the word in normal usage is that "but" means, disregard everything to the left of that word: "I think you're a fine person, Stanley, and most women would be pleased to be your friend, but..." And that's when the fight started.
     
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  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I do look for too many buts, there are alternatives. Thirteen in 2,000 words, it would depend.
     
  7. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    However! Because bigger words make bigger emotions. Or at least that's how I think Hemingway put it...
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not an ugly word. It's perfectly neat and functional.
     
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  9. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Not the same. However is primarily an adverb. It has one conjunctive definition:

    5. in whatever way, manner, or state: Arrange your hours however you like.

    But has five:
    1. on the contrary; yet: My brother went, but I did not.
    2. except; save: She was so overcome with grief she could do nothing but weep.
    3. unless; if not; except that (followed by a clause, often with that expressed): Nothing would do butthat I should come in.
    4. without the circumstance that: It never rains but it pours.
    5. otherwise than: There is no hope but by prayer.

    As adverbs, they flip. However has four definitions and but has one:
    1. nevertheless; yet; on the other hand; in spite of that: We have not yet won; however, we shall keeptrying.
    2. to whatever extent or degree; no matter how: However much you spend, I will reimburse you.
    3. in whatever manner: We will allow you to travel however you please.
    4. how; how under the circumstances: However did you manage?
    conjunction
    5. in whatever way, manner, or state: Arrange your hours however you like.

    11. only; just: There is but one God.
    There doesn't appear to be much overlap.
     
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  10. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    I like but. I use buts often.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've been known to appreciate a particularly well presented but on occasion. ;)
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    is the writer of that post the must-be-obeyed 'god' of the literary world? ... why would you take one person's arrogant pronouncement as gospel?

    as others have said above, it's not an 'ugly' or 'bad' word... it's a useful one when employed judiciously...

    always treat advice given on writing sites as you would a bottle of medicine given to you by some stranger you ran into on the street... don't just go ahead and take it, as if it's what you need to make you healthy... first consider the source... was it prescribed by a reputable physician?... is it meant to be taken for what's ailing you?... do you know the proper dosage for your condition?... can you be sure it's the real thing, or could it be something harmful that was poured into a bottle meant to hold something else?
     
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  13. Passero
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    Passero Member

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    Considering I'm new to writing there might be some guidelines I don't know about which specifies that "but" is an ugly word :)
    Glad to hear it's just a personal opinion and I don't have to rewrite half of my story...

    Thanks for the clarification on that.
     
  14. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    I have the same feeling for the word 'as' i feel i over use it.
     
  15. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    However is a fancy but. lol
     
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  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    So many things to say, none of them appropriate... :D
     
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  17. Hazel B-S
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    Hazel B-S Member

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    I can't think of any 'ugly' words, but I know I hate the word 'nice'. Boring, unoriginal, so many other words!
     
  18. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I suppose your standards for an alternative are higher than mine. I thought minor similarities in some instances (or one, by the looks of the results you hunted down) was enough.

    Interesting, though. I never look up common words because I think I already know their meaning. Sometimes there's as bit more to it.
     
  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Did you know that the word nice originally meant silly or lacking in sense? ;)

     
  20. Robert_S
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    Excessive or misuse of words is more crucial than not using a word at all.
     
  21. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I use "but," but only where it expresses my meaning.
     
  22. Hazel B-S
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    Hazel B-S Member

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    oh thats super cool! another cool thing about language is in French- you know how some of their letters have a little pointy cap above them? like on the O in hotel? that little cap means that in old times an S would've come after the O. So in the example of hotel- hotel was once hostel!
     
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  23. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    That is the circumflex accent, and yes, in French it nearly always points to an S that was once there but pronunciation has changed and the S dropped from the word. The tilde over the N in Spanish (ñ) similarly points to a second N that was once standard in the spelling but which scribes, for the sake of saving space, wrote as a ligature that eventually turned into the diacritic. The word mañana, which means tomorrow, was once written as mannana. The tilde is literally the top of the second n poking up from behind the first one. ;)
     
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  24. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    I like the word [blimp].

    It's fun to say.
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    wrey, you're a lexicographical marvel!

    i never knew the origin of the french circumflex, despite having a working knowledge of the language and having lived in the country... same goes for the spanish tilde...

    merci mille fois y muchisimas gracias, mon cher amigo!
     
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