I'm often told to keep "claim language" like "plurality" and "comprising" out of the description.
Is this just a style preference or is there any compelling reason to avoid this?
The first principle is to not use language that might have some legal connotation that you do not fully understand.
Regarding your specific examples I would say that there is a danger of a court importing limitations from the specification into their reading of the claims. While the claims are to be read in light of the specification it is improper to decide something in the specification overrides the plain meaning of the claims - but it happens.