In the same vein, several readers have petitioned for a renewed injunction against "pretty" as an insipid measure of magnitude. The court, borrowing from the strictures of E.B. White, imposed this injunction 25 years ago. White lumped "pretty" in a class with "rather" and "very." These modifiers are "leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words."
The court has never banned "pretty" absolutely, but it has frowned upon it ferociously. Listen up, you writers! Whenever the mood strikes you to modify a "likely" with a "very" -- or a "probable" with a "rather" -- lie down, please, until the notion goes away. You will feel better in the morning.
The court's docket seems to be crowded today with complaints against modifiers. Thomas A. Ratliff Jr. of Cincinnati asks an injunction against "yet," as in "the president's fortunes have taken yet another bad turn." The plaintiff finds the intensifier "unnecessary," adding neither strength nor significance. The court denies the motion. Not all intensifiers are surplusage. This "yet" was a "yet" that made the sentence sting.
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