The proper maverick thing to do is to run down clichés. Yech, I wouldn't touch that one with a bargepole. Hah, got you. There is one more cliché.
I cannot baulk at them because I have always believed that clichés become clichés because they express sentiments or reality continually. Language has given us the ability to use these in fascinating ways or in contexts they are not used in often.
The demonising of clichés has made simple words into a stuttering heap of convoluted phrases. Genuine intent becomes suspect. Take the word interesting. One may find something interesting, that is holding interest, remarkable, exciting, worthy of note, even motivating.
However, one has been told that when you don't have anything to say about a work just call it interesting. Such a fiend it has been transformed into that I shudder when receiving it as a comment or a compliment.
These thoughts are a response to a report in The Telegraph that mentions such phrases in the English language that gets people all riled up.
Before we get to them, I'd like to see what the experts have to say:
- The tautological statement "I personally" made third place - an expression that BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphreys has described as "the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice".
Now, now, Mr. Humphreys, the attempt at metaphor fails and is rather flat, much like soggy chips. Chips and rice are not the same or even similar, therefore how would the tautology apply?
Jeremy Butterfield, the author of Damp Squid, in which these phrases are discussed, said: "We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often - an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism - and the same seems to happen with some language."
The purpose of language ought to be a bit more than relieving readers of exhaustion. Indeed, one looks for and tries to not fall into the trap, but if the effort shows then it is one more example of words flexing their muscles. Words with a toned body are nice; watching them sweat it out in a gym is not.
The top ten most irritating phrases according to the book:
- At the end of the day
- Fairly unique
- I personally
- At this moment in time
- With all due respect
- It's a nightmare
- Shouldn't of
- It's not rocket science
The reference is to their wrong or loose usage. There would be occasions, though, when such phrases convey just what they are.
There is an at the end of the day, which is night.
And while uniqueness cannot be measured, so fairly unique seems off, there are yardsticks where we do think of better than the best which should properly be the end of the measure.
I personally is careless, but think about the possibility of the one uttering it as taking responsibility twice over!
Is there something drastically wrong with at this moment in time? If so, then we must cringe at the constant reference to now.
With all due respect is of course worth a smile. It reveals and revels in obsequiousness. If it is said with a dash of sarcasm, it might make mincemeat of the one it is addressed to.
It's a nightmare is often used for anything other than a nightmare, therefore it could possibly take on metaphorical connotations.
It's not rocket science. I suppose rocket science is hugely difficult to fathom, although it is not quantum physics would work as well with me. Absolutely!
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The friend who sent me this link added in his note:
"Do you want to try a search for these phrases on your blog? I bet that you'll get zero or nearly zero on most counts. You are too creative to use clichés."
You'd be surprised but I don't even need to check.
I personally feel at the end of the day you cannot be fairly unique 24/7. It's a nightmare absolutely and at this moment in time it is not rocket science.
With all due respect ;)