Former/latter, respectively and other enemies of plainspeak

Caveman created gestures and they were, eh, okay. Later, he developed language and it was good. And then some powdered-wig prigs stepped in. And that was not good. Why do we even bother with words that just complicate things? Who came up with words like “respectively?”

MESSY:  Cody and Rachel are college students. They go to Michigan State and University of Michigan, respectively.

CLEAN:  Cody’s a Spartan; Rachel’s a Wolverine.

A third of the words. In, out, done.

And then there’s “former and latter.” What miserable word-slinger decided they were a good idea?

MESSY:  There are plastic bags and cloth bags. The former aren’t eco-friendly. The latter are.
CLEAN:  Cloth bags are eco-friendly. Plastic bags suck.

Whenever someone uses former and latter, I always have to think back to which one they said first. Why bother?

And then there’s the train wreck of overusing and/or and or/or pairings.  I love this Facebook post from a friend who caught a crappy copywriter backing himself into a corner:


I guess it gives new meaning to the phrase “dead ringer.”