Grammar Lessons from the CIA

Transient

While I do make my living as a writer, I'm about the worst grammarian you'll ever hope to meet. In some ways, I'm proud of that fact. I dislike police of all types, including language cops. In others, I'm embarrassed, a bit like a blue collar oaf pretending to be more intelligent than he is. Nevertheless, it's always important to keep improving, and there are some lessons to be found in the CIA stylebook, as pointed out in this post by Mental Floss. 

Here are some of my favorites:

8. THE LIST OF "HACKNEYED PHRASES," HOWEVER, IS PERFECT

If you're a fussy grammarian and have worked for the government your entire life, it's probably not hard to fill a couple notebooks with these asinine phrases:

a likely scenario
assume the mantle of office
bottom line
broad outlines of the case
heightened tensions
hit the campaign trail
keep their options open
net effect of the decision
considered judgment
nonstarters
dire straits
potential chokepoint
far-reaching implications
refurbish his tarnished image
geared up for action
triggered new developments
generates further disagreement
viable alternatives
hammer out a compromise
widely held perception

9. THIS WONDERFUL LIST OF REDUNDANCY IS A WONDERFUL LIST AS WELL

According to the style book, redundant phrases "expose bad habits or, worse, carelessness. The author who writes It is a true fact that they are offering free gifts is not watching his words."

Their "redundancy police" compiled the following list (funny, there's no mention of the Directorate of Intelligence Style Manual & Writer's Guide for Intelligence Publications...):

accidentally misfired
military troops
adequate enough
mutual cooperation
advance reservation
naval marines
as has been mentioned previously
old adage
both agree
own personal
build a new house
past career
bureaucratic redtape
past history
chief mainstay
personal autograph
church seminarians
personal charisma
close confidant
past custom
close personal friend
personal popularity
combine together
piecemeal on a piece basis
completely surrounded
professional career
consensus of opinion
rally together
could possibly
relocate elsewhere
current status
established tradition
exact same
exile abroad
exports beyond their borders
eyewitness at the scene
first began
final vestiges
foreign imports
free gift
future potential
future prospects
future successor
historical monuments
historical past
holy shrine
in close proximity
interact together
joint coalition
little booklet
live studio audience
long litany
major crisis
major milestone
meet personally
separate isolation cells
separate out
share together
single greatest
single most
small cottage
small village
sound logic
still continues
still remains
still retains
sufficient enough
sum total
tandem couple
temporary respite
temporary suspension
thin veneer
top business magnate
true facts
trusted confidant
underlying premise
unexpected surprise
unite together
well-known reputation
young baby