Monday, 5 December 2016

Elegant variation . . . a too ornamented pronominal substitute?

Ugh. Oh dear. The repetition of ‘Beverage’ . . . a wretched word that, in my view, has currency only in Her Majesty’s Department of Customs and Excise, as in, ‘Eligible articles for Alcoholic Ingredients Relief  [from Excise Duty paid] include beverages with an alcoholic strength not exceeding 1.2% alcohol by volume.’

                                           Elegant variation
                                           noun [ mass noun ]
                                           the stylistic fault of studiedly finding different ways 
                                           to denote the same thing in a piece of writing, 
                                           merely to avoid repetition.

A couple of examples suffice:
Kate [Fansler] had then produced from her carry-on luggage a flask containing Laphroaig (this was long before that delectable malt beverage became a stylish item in the United States) and had offered Patrice, name as yet unknown, a slug.
Sweet Death, Kind Death.
by Amanda Cross (1984) 
She turned, snatched the coffee from his hand and took two long gulps as the steam rising from the beverage misted up the freezing bathroom mirror.
Stasi Child
by David Young (2015)
. . . we are chiefly concerned with what may be called pronominal variation, in which the word avoided is either a noun or its obvious pronoun substitute. The use of pronouns is itself a form of variation, designed to avoid ungainly repetition; and we are only going one step further when, instead of either the original noun or the pronoun, we use some new equivalent. ‘Mr. Gladstone’, for instance, having already become ‘he’, presently appears as ‘that statesman’. Variation of this kind is often necessary in practice; so often, that it should never be admitted except when it is necessary. Many writers of the present day abound in types of variation that are not justified by expediency, and have consequently the air of cheap ornament. 
The King’s English 
H.W. Fowler (1908) 

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