Visits to this Blog

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

EwR Commentary - PART 2: The Expendable Use of the Word "Et cetera" (Etcetera or Etc.)


There are many people who use the abbreviation "etc." for the word "etcetera" in their writing.  Some people even use this word during speech.  Are you one of those people who uses the word "etcetera" all the time?  Have you ever asked yourself why you do it?  Maybe after you read this you will never use this word again.  In order to contemplate why you might hesitate to use either the word "etcetera" or its abbreviation "etc.", let's reflect upon the three following relevant pieces of information: (1) the origin, definition and usage of the word "etcetera"; (2) the reason why so many people use this word and its abbreviation; and (3) alternatives that exist in order to avoid using the word "etcetera" (etc.).

The second thing we want to consider here is why so many people use this word and its abbreviation in the first place.  Some of the main reasons that make the use of the abbreviation "etc." so appealing in writing, or the verbal usage of the word "etcetera" (or "et cetera) out loud include the following.  Since the word and its abbreviation are derived from Latin, some people think that it sounds sophisticated to use it.  A person might use "etcetera" in order to sound more educated than they really are.  This is the case of trying to impress someone with your language skills.  Most listeners and readers just don't buy it.

Another reason is to try and save time by using the abbreviation in writing, or to say the word aloud.  This actually has the contrary effect since its application provokes doubt about why it's being used in the first place.  The question in one's mind is whether or not the user of this word is really trying to save time, or is trying to avoid being specific in order to not give more examples of the same type.

A further example about why some people choose to use the word "etcetera" and its contraction is because it is habit-forming.  It sounds interesting because it's a Latin-based word, and it's easy to use and say.  For example, there are people who like to use short language forms when writing text messages or during live chats with others that they know very well.  This usage, however, can be very confusing sometimes, especially if you are communicating with foreigners.  The abbreviation "etc." can easily be misunderstood if it isn't used carefully.  Abbreviations and acronyms often confuse second language users of English.  If you want to avoid giving someone else a wrong idea, it's better to refrain from using the abbreviation "etc." or its full form in all types of communication.

No comments: