This Web App Identifies Unnecessary Words In Your Writing

Whether you need to craft a punchy email, a concisely worded cover letter, or a clever Twitter update, it can be difficult to identify unnecessary words in your own writing. Fortunately, if you’re struggling to fine tune your writing or reduce your resume to a single page, there’s a web app that can help. 

Expresso is a free app that points out style issues in blocks of text. Lifehacker reports that the app is useful for identifying common writing issues like filler words, use of passive voice, and weak verbs. Simply copy and paste the text you’re working on into the app—or write directly in the text field—and let Expresso analyze your writing. 

While Expresso is useful for editing individual texts, its aim is actually much broader. According to the Expresso website, the goal is to teach effective writing techniques using concrete examples. “While good writing style is hard to master, there are several simple yet powerful techniques which many writing guides and coaches focus on,” the website explains. “Expresso teaches these techniques by applying them directly to your writing.”

The app is also useful for analyzing the writing of others. Try typing a passage from your favorite book into Expresso, or compare the styles of a range of authors, to identify what makes their writing so powerful. Of course, keep in mind that while Expresso can help you better understand writing, its metrics should be just one tool in your writing arsenal. “Writing metrics employed by Expresso can be powerful but they are not a 'magic bullet,'” the website notes. “Good writing style remains an art, not a science.”

The Mental Floss Store Is Back!

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You've been asking about it for months, and today we can finally confirm that the Mental Floss Store is back up and running! Simply head here to find dozens of T-shirts with all sorts of unique designs to choose from, whether you’re in the market for a pi pun, a risqué grammar joke, or something only your fellow bookworms will appreciate. You can even use your new Mental Floss shirt to teach your friends all about scurvy.

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Head on over to the Mental Floss Store to see our entire collection. And if you use the code FLOSSERS at checkout by end of day Sunday, you'll get 20 percent off your order. 

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Wa Wa Wee Wa: The Origin of Borat's Favorite Catchphrase

Wa wa wee wa! Sacha Baron Cohen is back in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2020).
Wa wa wee wa! Sacha Baron Cohen is back in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2020).
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

When Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was released in 2006, a new audience was exposed to Borat Sagdiyev, a “journalist” portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen who had made frequent appearances on the comedian’s Da Ali G Show.

Soon, in our country there was problem: People mimicked Borat’s catchphrases, "very nice" and “wa wa wee wa,” incessantly. The latter phrase was used to denote surprise or happiness on Borat’s part. While some may have assumed it was made up, it turns out that it actually means something.

Wa wa wee wa is Hebrew, which Cohen speaks throughout the film and which helped make Borat a hit in Israel. (Cohen is himself Jewish.) It was taken from an Israeli comedy show and is the equivalent of the word wow. Reportedly, the expression was popular among Israelis, and they appreciated Cohen’s use of it.

The original Borat also sees Cohen singing a popular Hebrew folk song, “Koom Bachur Atzel,” or “get up lazy boy,” among other Hebrew mentions. It remains to be seen how much of it he’ll be speaking in the sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. It premieres on Amazon Prime Friday, October 23.

[h/t The Los Angeles Times]