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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Cliché-go-round

A good writer avoids clichés whenever possible. The more popular and trendy some phrase or construction fad is, the more it is to be avoided.

But bad writers use clichés more the trendier they are. The reason is that the clichés offer a way to engage the non-discerning reader without doing any work. If you write "How cool is that?" you are instantly "in" with the mindless hordes who have been repeating that phrase themselves since it was first made popular on TV show X.

For instance, Eamonn Brennan, discussing UConn's win over Texas, wrote: "After the win? Not so much."

If you look back at the previous paragraph, "not so much" hardly even makes sense here. He was talking about UConn's performance at Maui being forgotten. Now, after beating Texas, it will be "not so much forgotten"? The mindlessness of clichés nicely illustrated: Brennan was so desperate to drop in the cliché that he couldn't even be bothered to see if it harmonized with what else he was writing.

1 comment:

  1. Surely a far worse specimen of clichédom is the proliferation of "doth protest too much." Some of the examples aren't even grammatical. "Rich professors doth protest too much?" That's like saying "Rich professors does protest too much." Ugly stuff.

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