Worse than boring, reliance on platitudes can affect the public attitude when language becomes complacent and dull.
In the past week the use of ‘xo’ in professional correspondence has been dissected by The Atlantic, ‘OMG’ was discovered in a letter to Churchill from 1917, and a soon to be released book has been reviewed on the Globalization of that helpful little lexical manual, The Oxford English Dictionary.
It seems that the internet has decided that the way we speak about things matters. Even the practice of teaching school children cursive is under debate. Clearly now that the Gnostic dilemma of a presidential election is behind us, the media and chattering classes can deal with pressing issues like text-speak.
In response, I’d like to propose a New Year’s resolution that we can get started on right away; let’s really think about the verbal junk gunking up the public discourse. How much does ‘kicking the can’ really tell us about fiscal cliff negotiations? Did anyone really throw Ambassador Rice under a bus? President Obama won the election: is the man allowed to make a speech without being called out for ‘spiking the football’ or ‘taking a victory lap’? Worse than boring, these platitudes can shift the public attitude when language becomes complacent and dull.
Obviously writing a call to end the use of clichés just opens me up to a lifetime of attacks on anything that I write until I change my name and/or solar flares destroy the internet as we know it. But if I have to hear another pundit mull whether a misplaced comma is a ‘game changer’ or call budget negotiations ‘trench warfare,’ I might just throw my body in front of the cameras for the good of the country.
Which clichés and hackneyed terms drive you crazy? Who are the worst offenders? Tell us in the comments section below or tweet us @thecyclemsnbc.