Today’s going to be a short one, folks, but something that’s made me go “huh” for a long time: Are there certain words and phrases we only use in writing?
Of course, there’s jargon and the occasional formal term (especially legal) that don’t typically occur in spoken conversation, but I’m talking about ordinary, everyday English, and not words that have simply fallen out of use – they’re just not used verbally.
One such word is alas. I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say “alas,” or even if I’ve ever heard it. It’s not obsolescent; I’ve seen it in written form far more than I’d like. The same is probably true for any writer who’s tried the query-coaster of submitting work to publishers, agents or magazines, as the most common use for “alas” seems to be on the lines of, “Alas, we regret that this doesn’t meet our current needs.” Which is probably why “alas” is a word I’m not particularly fond of. 🙂
Another word – or phrase, rather – that I see written often, but seldom hear, is “but I digress.” Bloggers digress a lot! I try not to, but I’m sure I do. I just don’t tell you about it. 😀 Digression happens on a regular basis while eating lunch with my coworkers. No one ever acknowledges it.
Can you think of other ordinary words that you see often in written form, but hardly ever hear spoken? Curious minds want to know!
Dictionary photo by Dr. Marcus Gossler via wikipedia.org, Creative Commons license