The Plague of “Even”

A devil’s bargain in word processing is the quick-find option. David Lodge foresaw this curse in Small World, when his character Frobisher found, through an old-tyme computer, his unwitting penchant for the world “grease” – greasy, grease-stained, etc. He had used grease-related words over and over again in past writings. And this knowledge crippled him. When he tried to write after that, whenever he needed an adjective, he couldn’t think of anything else. It was all grease. So he stopped writing.

I had a similar experience with the word “even.” I started to notice I use the word “even” a lot. Really … a lot. In one search, I found that word used three times in one paragraph. And twice in one sentence. I don’t remember what that paragraph was about, but apparently it needed a lot of emphasis.

Now, every time I use the word “even,” I have to scan the surrounding sentences and paragraphs for other instances. I am keenly, painfully aware of every use of the word … even words that look like it – like “every,” which I have used twice in this paragraph. When I play Scrabble, I don’t know what to do with all my Es – unless I also get the V. What is it about that little word “even” that makes its use so unwittingly infectious? Have I always been so excessive in my use of “even,” going as far back as Adam and Even?


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