The phrase “Floskel” is the name of the adornment, the non-saying and the unnecessary phrases. In the rhetoric of antiquity, the term was understood to mean a concise, aptly formulated, authoritative, and applicable to many concrete cases, whereas nowadays meaningless and unnecessary words are designated as a phrase in a statement.
The term is derived from Latin (lat. Flosculus) and can be translated with flowers. This translation points to the original meaning of the word: a rhetorical embellishment. However, this is no longer a rhetorical jewelery element, but an unnecessary phrase that does not contain any statement. Let’s look at an example.
In my opinion and this I have weighed a long time, in this case there is the chance that the operation could be carried out almost without violence. In principle this should always be the highest commandment when we accompany demonstrations and put under police protection. In the event that there are no riots, the action should be peaceful.
The exemplary passage is inflated and artificially lengthened by the use of phrases. It will be seen that the color marking all contain words or phrases which do not provide any additional information and appear to be flawed. Consequently, the example, when the phrases are deleted, could also look as follows.
There is a chance that the operation could be carried out without violence. This should always be the highest commandment when we accompany demonstrations and put under police protection. If there are no riots, the action should be peaceful.
The meaningfulness of the text is reinforced when the obvious use of unnecessary words is dispensed with. Thus the use of many phrases can dilute a text and make it difficult for the receiver (reader, listener) to grasp the essential statement. Thus, if a precise formulation is desired, phrases should be avoided in the language.
Flosks as a style mistake
Nevertheless, the use of a phrase is not necessarily to be regarded as a style mistake or bad German. Rather, the increased use of such phrases is stylistically bad. Sometimes phrases can be considered polite and are an essential part of our communication.
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear guests, Federal Chancellor, it is a pleasure for me to speak to you tonight and to receive this award which I am grateful to […]
The above example could have originated from any award. It consists almost exclusively of interlaced phrases, but we do not perceive the use as a disturbing or a lack of redecognition. This is because our communication knows a lot of phrases, which are used as a confirmation of the counterpart or courtesy.
Note: In principle, any kind of salutation in a letter is to be interpreted as a phrase. The well-known “Ladies and Gentlemen” or “Yours sincerely” have no meaning and are only decorative accessories. Nevertheless, such elements belong to every letter.
This means that the use of a bottle is not fundamentally problematic. As stylistic errors, therefore, nothing is to be understood unless the meaningfulness of a text is wholly diluted.
Effect and function of the mules
In principle, it is difficult to attribute to the components of a speech a concrete effect or function. Then we run the risk of reducing the whole thing to it and no longer check whether it actually does. Nevertheless we would like to give some hints.
Overview: Meaning, effect and function of the mules
The term “floating” refers to non-assertive statements which do not contain any further information. Thus, the use of numerous phrases can be interpreted as stylistic errors, since here the meaningfulness of a text is diluted and the actual information is obscured.
Nevertheless, the use of such phrases can be regarded as polite and communicative. The language knows a lot of word sequences, which do not contain a statement, but are expected by the recipient (greeting formulas, acknowledgments, encouragement).
As a result, the mule can be perceived positively, although it is often not obvious at all that nothing has been said. Often, political speeches are characterized by quirky twists – so much is said, but nothing is said.