We had a friend of the family back in the 70’s and 80’s who was a successful patent attorney and well known in the legal world. Sadly, he passed away years ago but left a legacy of fascinating observations of human foibles and quirks.
Many of these flaws that he would point out were in the area of language and usage. There was one phrase that I assume he heard in the courtroom repeatedly, much to his annoyance. I am sure you have heard these words on TV particularly in interviews of news-makers, politicians and experts.
As an example, one might be listening to a discussion of the latest poll regarding the present election campaign as follows:
“At this point in time, it is difficult to say who the winner will be. A few weeks ago, all three major parties were tied. Now it seems that the NDP are ahead with the Conservatives next and the Liberals close behind.”
Now, did you spot the phrase that irritated my friend? You will find it at the beginning, “at this point in time”.
So, you may ask, is there anything wrong here? Grammatically, no. However, some editing is in order. Why is it necessary to say “at this point…….”? It isn’t.
He could have said, ”at this time”. It’s that simple.
It is pointless to say “at this point……in time.
(I couldn’t resist that.)
I believe that we all use more words than are necessary to get our point (there is that word again!) across.
The point is, “less is best”.
I hope in future editions of my blog I may include a few more language quirks that my late lawyer friend tossed about.