Often people speak of the "empty word shell" which - like the "hollow" or "empty phrase" - appears empty and thus hollow to the listener or reader . It can be a criticism of a linguistic usage in which terms are used (thoughtlessly) only because of their media presence or other popularity. Whole sentences or parts of sentences with comparable properties are also criticized as empty formulas .
Terms can also be addressed which, depending on the recipient, invite a wide variety of associations that are reinterpreted by later users and possibly in a different sense. At the beginning of the 20th century , Fritz Mauthner spoke of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the “left-wing young Hegelians” of “that the vacuumed abstractions offered Hegel empty words into which rebellious thoughts could also be inserted”.
The term empty phrase is not a firmly defined term and can itself be viewed as an empty phrase. What seems to be an established term for someone can also be a meaningless empty phrase for others. Mauthner also referred to empty words as "empty terms".
References and footnotes
- Definition according to empty phrase . In: Mackensen - Large German Dictionary . 11th edition. 1986.
- cf. the example chosen at duden.de: »Tolerance« must not be an empty phrase. duden.de accessed on May 9, 2012
- cf. the chosen synonyms in empty words. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved May 9, 2012 hollow phrase, empty phrase .
- History . In: Fritz Mauthner: Dictionary of Philosophy . 1923.
- Influence . In: Fritz Mauthner: Dictionary of Philosophy . 1923.