Name-Calling: Confrontation Fails to Bring Dialogue and Resolution

Arin N. Reeves
September 2014

Confrontation fails to bring dialogue, fails to bring resolution

I had a language-arts teacher in high school who abhorred adjectives. One of her oft-quoted principles of excellent writing (attributed to Voltaire) was, “Adjectives are the enemy of the substantive.”

She would often scribble this quote on top of graded assignments as a simple explanation for a less-than-stellar grade. To this day, I consciously track how many adjectives I’m using, even though I have a great fondness for using lots of adjectives in my writing.

There is no doubt that adjectives are seen by many as having merely supporting roles in language constructions where nouns are the lead players. However, when it comes to active inclusion, changing particular nouns into adjectives can allow for a change in the way that those nouns, as nouns, just cannot do. This is especially true when we deal with the -ists in our vocabulary when discussing differences.