Tuesday, 18 May 2010

At the end of the day...

I recently came across an interesting book titled `It's Not Rocket Science... an other irritating modern cliches'. Written by two British authors, Clive Whichelow and Hugh Murray, the book is a collection of modern cliches which most of us have heard (or used) with much regularity. Cliches are very useful to spice up a conversation... but when overused, as they tend to be, they do make some listeners cringe.

In these days of online connectivity, everything is available at the `click of a mouse'. Some people boast of being so hardworking that they are at it `24/7'. And if you're not `up to speed' you'd be `left out in the cold'.

So how do we define a cliche? According to the authors, it not quite easy to do because one person's idiom is another person's hackneyed phrase and yet another person's cliche. One good test is if a phrase induces an inward groan... and possibly a roll of the eyes too.

Whichelow and Murray are TV and radio writers. They have grouped their collection of overused phrases into various chapters covering general, media, entertainment and political categories, although it must be said that some cliches are so aggressive that they can be heard in almost all situations. The classic one being, `at the end of the day'. Now you tell me if you have not heard this one mentioned by someone very recently... or perhaps it was you who used it!

The authors have listed many other lovely and familiar phrases but I'll just list down a few of my personal favourites for starters :-

Environmentally friendly : This is such a vague phrase to be virtually meaningless, but it puts a warm glow of self-satisfaction into most of us who like to feel we're doing our bit without actually changing any of our environmentally unfriendly ways.

Hearts and minds : Something politicians are always aspiring to win - haven't they got any of their own?

Your call may be recorded for training purposes : Yes, you often feel as though your experience at the hands of operators would be perfect illustration of how not to do it.

Quietly confident : Or `smug', as it used to be known.

The facts speak for themselves : Clever old facts, we say.

I can see where you're coming from : Why is this phrase so irritating? Is it because it is verbose or patronizing, or because you know that the speaker is just about to contradict you?

Having read the whole book, it seems to me that the authors may have missed out on a few other cliches... at least those that I would consider as such in my book. Among these are, `to be honest with you'. I've often heard this phrase used by someone who thinks he/she is bringing you into the inner circle by confiding something that is not being told to others.

`To be honest with you, we have spent more time preparing this proposal than our management allocated for.' Yeah, right... so you're honest with me only for this one. At other times you're not, is that it?

Another overused cliche is `the big picture'. I admit I'm guilty of saying this one too often in my discussions with my engineers when we come to minor disagreements. I use it when I need to overrule them on certain decisions without letting them know of the underlying reasons. Crafty, eh?

For better or for worse, cliches are almost impossible to avoid... so what's your favourite?

10 comments:

Tommy Yewfigure said...

In all honesty, Mr Oldstock; Are you coming to us with a solution on this cliché thingy or are you part of the problem? On the other hand (which hand huh??), we like you just the same and if there’s any consolation to you, most of your opposite sex fans would say; “If loving u is wrong, we don’t want to be right.”….kekeke.

Tommy

P/S - BTW which one of us is the “opposite sex”? The pompuan or the laki? LOL

3yearshousewife said...

Thinking out of the box makes my darah boil at times...

HLiza said...

I have a habit to use "actually" or "frankly" too often..somebody made a remark on that and said "Oh I sure hope you speak frankly!".

Oldstock said...

Tommy my friend, for all intents and purposes, you can say that I'm part of the problem... and when will I ever learn? Only time will tell.... hahaha!

Oldstock said...

As, that particular phrase is in the book. How about thinking aloud... didn't know that thinking actually makes a noise ;-)

Oldstock said...

Frankly speaking, Puan Hliza, you better be frank with us... hehehe..

Snakebite said...

term of reference, anjakan paradigma, kesinambungan, ketrampilan, rebranding, thinking positive, misi visi objektif berwawasan, alternative thinking bla bla...uuurrrggghhhh

Oldstock said...

Tok, good collection of kliche Melayu you have there... and if I can add, `dulu, kini dan selamanya' heheheh...

Pat said...

I MUST get my hands on that book - if only just to see how many of them I am guilty of abusing myself!! ;)

But ackchully, here in Msia, we have our own staples - like the applicable-for-everything tag: isn't it? Hahahah!

My favourite-to-hate is 'I'm here for you', said blithely, and care-lessly, when I'm down, by the most casual of friends! All I want to say, is another one on the list: Yah, right! :(

Oldstock said...

Pat,

So if I do get to meet you in real-life, I better not say `I'm here for you' la kan? So what to say huh? Maybe, `let me know if you need any help'... sounds the same oso la, heheheh :-)