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Up is What?
I took a break last week after publishing my hundredth EaganBlog. I wanted to reflect on what I had done. Sadly, the prospect is not a pretty one.

When I took this job, I promised my readers that I would root out waste, fraud, and abuse in this space. Even though that was a solemn vow, when I look back at my work I find way, way, way, way too many modifiers. My word-to-idea ratio is dangerously out of balance, and this blog is running a huge linguistic deficit. To atone for these transgressions, I am instituting some cuts designed to end serial redundancy and also repeating myself over and over.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to do this: stop using “up.” Oh please, I hear you saying, how could it possibly help to eliminate just one word? Especially one that has only two letters?

Fair question, although I don’t particularly like your tone. Let me answer by pointing out just a few of the redundancies this word is party to. Take, for instance, “open up,” “serve up,” “stand up,” “clean up,” and “rise up.” Aren’t “open,” “serve,” “stand,” “clean,” and “rise” clear enough? Not only does the “up” get in the way, it adds two blanks spaces on either side of itself. Furthermore, it insults the reader by suggesting that he/she/it is so stupid that he/she/it needs an extra word to understand something that should already be crystal clear. Those “ups” are about as useful as a crutch to a three-legged man. Think about that, if you dare.

Part of the problem with “up” is its status as the most promiscuous of all words. It attaches itself to practically any loose noun, verb, or preposition, seemingly without shame. In today’s paper alone I saw two examples I’d never seen before: “loan up” and “strengthen up.” Sheesh. There must be thousands of other examples, some redundant, some not. As if that weren’t enough, it also doesn’t seem to care which part of speech it is. Do we call it a verb, noun, adverb, or preposition? — the answer is yes. I find this uncertainty troubling, even dangerous.

“Up” is like salt. It can add flavor to food, but too much and it could give you a kidney stone. Or a heart attack. Or cancer.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong. Let’s be fair. What I have called promiscuous might simply be “up’s” liberal, easy-going personality. “Up” is, perhaps, the most positive of all words; no wonder it’s so popular. Other words just naturally want to hang out with it. So why would I saddle this gentle, beloved word with the full weight of my program of austerity?

Well, why not? What easier place to trim verbiage than among the smallest and most vulnerable? I suppose that I could have chosen to cut all those polysyllabic adjectives, but that kind of pretentious gobbledygook will eventually be needed as the engine of this blog’s recovery. Adjectives, as you know, are job creators for other words. I dare not do anything that might threaten their capacity to stave off the crippling stagflation of dullness. I have my readers to think of.

I wish it could be otherwise, but sacrifices have to be made. Someone has to bite the bullet, even if they have no teeth. There will be some hardships, of course, and a loss of brevity, clarity, and coherence, but I am confident we will all come out of this stronger. With all those “ups” out of the way, the quality of this blog will have no place to go but, you know, topward.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon