I read the phrase "inherit simplicity" and briefly thought what a nice heirloom to pass down before I realized that the context demanded "inherent simplicity." But at least in that case the intended meaning was obvious; later I read about a person who cast off all "implications," and I had to stare at the sentence for an embarrassingly long moment before realizing that the writer was looking for "inhibitions."
Yes, we have once again entered the realm of the not-quite-but-almost-right word, which is next-door neighbor to the black hole of tautology: "the character commodifies nature by turning nature into a commodity," or "the scenery is important to the way the performance of the play is performed," which raises the question: what happens to a performance that is not performed? The unperformed performance is not worth performing, or something like that.
Empty sentences written by students desperate to meet the word count: this is not the only problem that raises its ugly head at this point in the semester. Yesterday I was talking with a colleague whose students think she's doing some sort of magic when she identifies passages in their writing that are clearly plagiarized, as if recognizing sudden shifts in writing style were some sort of superpower. "I know they're not illiterate," she said, "but maybe they don't read and write enough to recognize that differences in style exist."
I think she's onto something: the tone-deaf sentences, the near impossibility of getting most students to feel rhythm in lines of poetry, the blindness to differences between writing styles, the willingness to grab words out of the thesaurus without any clear understanding of their meanings or connotations--all are signs of inadequate immersion in texts. Not text messages but real texts, big fat books and meaty articles written by skillful writers who know the difference between "implications" and "inhibitions."
If this is the wave of the future, the implications are frightening. Inherently.