When I was getting my English degree, I became sensitized to the words “particular” and “certain.” Phrases like “The author is making certain arguments” or “She uses words in particular kinds of ways” would creep into most discussions. What’s worse, there would be no elaboration about what arguments or kinds of word usage. Too often, these words substituted for the unspoken substance of a person’s argument, or had no meaning at all except to imply that if you didn’t know what was meant then you really weren’t worth your salt as a literary critic.
I’m hearing these words and phrases more and more often in recent months. Heaven help the next person who nods knowingly and says that “certain” people look for “particular kinds of” resources and who doesn’t immediately follow those phrases with an explanation of exactly which people and what kinds of resources. I don’t know what I’ll do, but it will be a particular kind of tantrum partaken of by certain kinds of librarians.