This word is a noted sinner among those abstract words that seduce writers into complicated obscurity. Anyone who finds himself using it should treat the discovery as a danger-signal, warning him to consider whether what he wants to say cannot be said more clearly and pithily in another way. That horrible phrase " position in regard to ", should always be rejected when it proffers itself. Not content with ousting the old-fashioned " state of ", it is committing more and more outrages against clear expression. "The question of the British position in regard to the amount of authorisation" (from a high class newspaper) is today's way of saying "the question how much Britain is to get of the amount authorised". "The position in regard to the supply of labour and materials has deteriorated" seems to come more naturally to the pen than "labour and materials are more difficult to get". "No one has any doubt" writes the Manchester Guardian, "that deceased senior officials of the civil service have in regard to engraved on their hearts; and their successors today show no recovery from this kind of hereditary lockjaw." But it is not fair to put all the blame on officials.
Even without the company of "in regard to" position does much mischief. The B.B.C. tells us of a Government spokesman:
Dealing with the eggs position, he said that it exceeded all expectations.
What is an " eggs position ", and how can it " exceed all expectations "? The spokesman presumably meant that it looked as if eggs would be more plentiful than anyone had expected. If so, why not say so ?
It is common form for an Insurance Company, when asking for a renewal premium, to say:
No-claim bonus is shown subject to the position in this respect remaining unprejudiced until expiry.
This wraps up in verbiage the simple statement that the right to the no-claim bonus is conditional on no claim being made before the expiry of the policy.
The House was waiting to hear what Mr. Strachey had to say about the position of meat imports from Argentina.
Why drag in " position "? What the House was waiting to hear was what Mr. Strachey had to say about meat imports from Argentina.
Similarly " the position of " only cumbers the paper in:
It has now come to the position of the manufacturers having to supply the part required.
The next example shows how ready-made phrases like " supply position " present themselves automatically as thought-savers:
Your letter about National accounting machines has been carefully considered, but owing to the acute supply position I am sorry that I can do nothing to help you.
What the writer meant was "but as these machines are so scarce..."
"You will be advised in due course regarding your position" is a starchy way of saying "you will be told in due course how you stand", and "if such is the position" a very starchy way of saying "if so".
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