11 August 2010

Words, Language & Common Usage: Pt 2

Clichéd phrases can communicate much in a short space, or they can annoy. Because we tie disproportionate meaning to some phrases, and that's why we use them, we must be careful that others are hearing what we are really saying.


A friend of mine brought a phrase into a conversation this past week, commenting on its overuse.

"On a daily basis." or "On a weekly basis."

When bureaucrats or academics are writing gobbly-gook, they'll often use more words instead of fewer words. What's wrong with just saying, "daily" or weekly"? When one word will suffice, don't use ten!

If you are painting a verbal picture, choosing quality words to bring in feeling, sound and flavour, then by all means use more words. Don't be spartan or minimalist when engaging the imagination of your reader. Don't do it all for them either. Just as in any art, leaving something for your reader/observer to do makes the process more engaging.

What's wrong with this sentence?


"The All Blacks beat the Welsh by 24 to 17."

Actually, they beat the Welsh by 7.

To say they beat the Welsh 24 to 17, is fine, but adding "by" changes the math.

As a friend was leaving the house one morning, I said, "Have a good one." My friend nearly lost her nut! That was a phrase that had been over used or oft said by a doubtful character and so had taken on negative vibes.

I was taken back a bit by her reaction, but, upon reflection, realised that it is a senseless, throw-away kind of phrase.

Any pet peeves come to your mind?
What phrase could you happily never hear again?

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