Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Irritating and Hackneyed Things People Say and the Corresponding Punishment

Just a short run down (urghh, hating this already) of a select few of those lazy, placemaker cliches that even fairly educated people come out with just for the sake of emitting sounds from their vocal tract in an effort to numb the pain and emptiness, and the penalty that befits...
1) "At the end of the day". Ok I know this is figurative but that doesn't alter the fact that it's at best, a lazy, lazy verbal crutch and synonymous with "this is my opinion and/or line or sales pitch, nothing you say or do is going to alter it".
PENALTY: Firing Squad. At dawn. No, better still, at the end of the day.
2) "If you look at it logically"..as opposed to what? What are you trying to say, that your interlocutor is an irrational and neurotic individual who needs to be brought back to reality with a bang, courtesy of your incisive (and deeply patronizing) intervention.
PENALTY: To be patronized to death and canonized as, as Victor Lewis Smith dubbed Esther Rantzen, the Patron Saint of Patronizers.
3) "I don't want to make an issue of this". Yes you do. Insofar as I understand this meaning of the word 'issue', which is to say, point of contention or debate, it might be better to at least be honest and say "I'm not going to discuss this on an equal footing with you since you are not my equal at least in this case, so you are going to do what I say". Or words to that effect.
PENALTY: "I don't want to make an issue out of your death with torments..."
4) "It's just one of those things." Found myself guilty of this committing this affront to several hundred years of accumulated ingenuity and inventiveness in the English language, only the other day. I was talking about Estonia's occupation as part of the USSR as being 'just one of those things'. One of what things? What the hell do you mean? Furthermore, the cliche if I understand it correctly is intened as dismissing whatever it's being tagged to as being unavoidable or even insignificant, which was not what I meant, and which is why therefore this phrase is moribund - if it can't be avoided or isn't very important, then why bother commenting on it at all, you're just wasting time.
PENALTY: Death? Well it's just one of those things isn't it....
5) "History repeats itself" - ok, when the Spanish Armada comes round again or we literally reinvent the wheel then I'll subscribe to that, otherwise STFU. As an aside, a writer (unfortunately I've forgotten the reference - could be Andrew Marr) played on this beautifully once when he/she wrote that history doesn't repeat itself, it rhymes..
PENALTY: Time for Torquemada to repeat himself.
6) "Sweden has the highest suicide rate in the world"...urghh..zzz...why do people say that? Even if it weren't merely trumpeting what a million people (or far more) have said in (formerly) smoky pubs up and down the land (I know, I know, a cliche too, at least I didn't put 'length and breadth..'), what conclusions are we to draw from it and what possible comfort can it bring to anyone regardless of whether they've been touched by suicide or no. Apart from anything, it's patently not true, at least according to wikipedia, though this info itself is out of date and seemingly impossible to corroborate.
PENALTY: deported to Sweden.
7) Finally, the phrase which really should have followed the grottiest, most one dimensional EastEnders character to the grave, but sadly didn't: "No offence" or it's even more florid bastard halfling "no disrepsect to yourself". The get out clause of all get out clauses (along with "it's meant ironically"). Surely by making such a statement you're in fact indicating that, yes, I do indeed intend to cause offence; either that or "oh shit I've just realized I said that to the wrong person, or when the wrong person was in earshot" thus indicating a certain amount of Janus-facedness since if that person hadn't been present then the get out clause would have been unnecessary.
PENALTY: To be reduced to tears by as sustained and ruthless verbal barrage, punctuated, of course, with the "no offence" disclaimer.

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