Sunday, November 13, 2005

Modern Rhetoric

An expression that has long annoyed me is "one-dimensional." It's an obvious intensifier of "two-dimensional," but I don't think it a very good one. "Two-dimensional" makes sense, conveying flatness and cartoon unreality. Subtracting a dimension for emphasis is essentially witless; one might as well trump the lot by saying "no-dimensional."

Yet everyone says it.

I'm not going to set up shop here as a language grouse, an unlovely breed associated with aging crabbiness and reactionary resentment. But not every figurative expression that catches on deserves to.

7 Comments:

Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

So you're saying "one-dimensional" is not all that and a cherry on top?

---L.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I pledge not to say "one-dimensional." When I come to think of it, I don't generally say it, so it's no great effort, but I like to think I'm making a stand of sorts.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Ken Houghton said...

One-dimensional makes perfect sense to me. It not only lacks depth, but breadth as well, attaining a height only in the solipsistic view of its purveyor.

11:27 AM  
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