Bad English 101: Hackneyed Phrases

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bob_L, Aug 18, 2002.

  1. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    Inspired by the excellent thread regarding English grammar, I'm creating this thread to discuss appallingly lazy writing.

    First up: kneejerk, overused phrases that you're sick of seeing and hearing.

    How many TV news stories have you seen in which a braindead TV reporter brings up any number of angles and elements in a story, only to summarize that "one thing is clear?" If one thing was clear, we wouldn't have needed to listen to the past three minutes of blather.

    Or the product review that brings up all kinds of problems and then saves the day with an entrance. For example:

    "Have you ever been unable to close your mouth because excess nasal hair growth has caught in your upper teeth and held your jaw open?

    "Enter Bernie's Rotary Nose Hair Clippers."

    I'm so sick of having products -- or anything else -- "enter" to save the day because a lazy writer couldn't think of a more creative lead to a story.

    Don't get me wrong. I hate the use of "don't get me wrong" as a transitional element. You can't surf the web for 15 minutes without seeing one of these. It's dumb. It's lazy. And it's lousy language.

    Anyone else have their own favorites?
     
  2. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    I hate the use of the expression "I tell you what" or the slightly less annoying "I'll tell you what." This is used all the time by sports colourmen as a way to to lend perceived authenticity to their opinion on what they're about to say. "I tell you what, he has one of the toughest breaking balls in the major leagues."

    Of course, sports "journalism" is the bastion of low brow stupidity, so I don't know what one would expect. Watch any sports news show and you'll hear nothing but a meathead with a warbly, hairy-chested voice spouting hackneyed cliches and catch phrases for half an hour. And that's the good ones.

    George (Dubya) Bush had one that is along the same lines, "Make no mistake..." I'm not sure how many times I've heard him say that, but it's a lot. I haven't heard him say it recently (then again, he hasn't been on the news every single day of late), so I imagine it was brought to his attention.

    There are countless others, such as the "one thing is clear" that you mentioned.
     
  3. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    Well, the fact is [​IMG], this is only going to worsen. Television is such a persuasion that people emulate their personalities and behavior around what they see and hear. If a particular phrase is over-used (and which one isn't), the audience picks up on it and assumes it to be a normal and acceptable way to speak. I don't watch television much at all, so I am not up to speed (is that another one? [​IMG] ) as to what phrase is being beaten to death at the particular moment (geez!).
    Bruce
     
  4. Carl Miller

    Carl Miller Screenwriter

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    The one most annoying to me is "there has been a sea change..."

    For example, "there has been a sea change in how Americans view their personal security since 9/11."

    Sea change? This phrase can be heard often on CNN and any other 24/7 news channel. Speaking of annoying phrases, 24/7 is actually fairly annoying as well. But I digress (also annoying by the way), and wonder why "sea change" is used at all? Why can't the talking heads on CNN simply say that Americans feel more vulnerable to terrorism since the attack on the WTC?

    I don't know if I'd call sea change lazy writing, though 24/7 surely is lazy, but it is unnecessary.
     
  5. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    Isn't it "sea of change?"
     
  6. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    Sea change. Hmmm. Haven't heard that one before. It's funny that broadcasters would use that expression, since "Seachange" is also the brand name of a fairly widely used software program for digital ad insertion.
     
  7. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    These fads in English-speaking come and go. The most annoying one still in vogue: "That said," "That being said," and, "Having said that." People seem to think saying such makes them sound deep or whatever.
     
  8. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Spoken like the attorney you are! [​IMG]
    Having said that, I watch expectantly as this sea change in dialect pans out, to be honest. [​IMG]
    Remember ...
    • "Say what?" (early and mid-eighties);
    • "Not!" (early nineties);
    • "Been there, done that" (mid-nineties).
     
  10. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    I hate the phrase "non-issue". What on earth is a "non-issue"? It is either an issue, or not an issue and make no mistake! That isn't my non-opinion, to be honest.
     
  11. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    "Pro-active" seems to be a word that only recently made it's way into our language as the opposite of "reactive." (I'm not sure why plain old "active" wasn't good enough.)
     
  12. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?
    You know what I'm sayin'?

    AAARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!
     
  13. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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  14. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

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    When I read or hear the phrase "as it were" used for a reflective pause, my brain sees "duhhhh" instead.
    ---------------------------------
    "The tube coloration, as it were, was quite euphonic."
    vs.
    "The tube coloration, duhhhhh, was quite euphonic."
    ---------------------------------
    Does this happen to anyone else? [​IMG]
     
  15. Kevin Farley

    Kevin Farley Second Unit

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    Oh, here's one. Key. Proper usage: Hard work is the key to success. What drives me nuts is "Hard work is key." "That is so key" "That's key to this" Off with the head...[​IMG]
     
  16. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Bud Selig made one the other day. He said something to the effect of there being "a myriad of problems" with baseball. Of course, it should be "there are myriad problems."

    Now that we're kind of on the topic, I have a question for Jack and/or Michael. Do you use the subjunctive voice in writing and speech? I never used to use "were" instead of "was" until my wife started correcting me, but now I wonder whether it is more common to avoid it.
     
  17. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

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  18. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  19. Thik Nongyow

    Thik Nongyow Stunt Coordinator

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  20. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    Read my lips...
     

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