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Posts Tagged ‘cliches’

Trite Trophy Winner 2010: At The End of The Day

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 26, 2010

Gene Collier, a sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, has awarded the “Trite Trophy” to a deserving sports cliche for the past 27 years. In the column, he mocks commonly used sports phrases and mixed cliches in what has become a literary tradition of sorts in the ‘burgh.

Based on the column (Trite Trophy: A cliche for all (sporting) seasons), he’s a man after my heart. This year’s deserving winner, “at the end of the day,” appears in my book (Literally, the Best Language Book Ever). He also mentions a few others that made my book.

In this year’s column, Collier lists more cliches than I can count–ok, not more than I can count–more than I bothered to count. It looks like at least 75.

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Hot as a Firecracker for the Fourth of July

Posted by languageandgrammar on July 3, 2009

Language and meteorology are intertwined, of course, since communicating the forecast accurately is just about as important as getting the forecast accurate in the first place, and cliches in meteorology are as ineffective (and annoying) as they are in any other field.

For weather cliches related to the Fourth of July, read my Hot as a Firecracker for the Fourth of July post on cloudyand cool.com.

–Paul

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Close But No Cigarette

Posted by languageandgrammar on April 30, 2009

We’ve all done it–either misstated something or slightly mangled a common statement or cliche, and the result was a humorous sentence that didn’t make sense. I call this “close but no cigarette.”

One of our blogger friends, Pamela Villars, recently posted a comment about such an example. She’d heard a news report stating that “The city will replant the trees that it has cut down.” I doubt that planting those now-dead trees is going to work; they’d be better off planting new trees.

I recently came across a Web site that highlighted many erroneous statements, most of which were written in non-English-speaking countries, which makes the mistakes more understandable–but not any less funny.

Here are a few examples (for the entire article, read Whoops! That’s not what I meant):

In an Acapulco hotel:  The manager has personally passed all the water served here. (He must spend a lot of time in the bathroom.)

In a cemetery:  Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves. (Remind me not to go to this place when the moon is full.)

In a Japan hotel:  You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid. (Talk about customer service!)

–Paul

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Baseball’s What Not to Say

Posted by languageandgrammar on April 6, 2009

I apologize to all of the people I know who will read this and think I’m singling them out because they will most likely make some version of the statement during the next 24 hours. I’m not, and that’s part of the point of the type of statement I like to call “You Thought You Were Clever, But….” We all do it–we make that non-clever, obvious statement even though when we hear the very same statement, we roll our eyes and shake our heads.

Do  your friends, family, and co-workers a favor, and don’t make any of these comments about the local Major League Baseball team after the first game of the season:

  • The Pirates are going 162-0 this year
  • At least we know that the Pirates won’t go 0-162 this year
  • At least we know that the Pirates will win one game this year

There are probably other versions, but you get the point.

It’s not funny. It’s not original. It’s as annoying as saying “See you next year” on December 31.

–Paul

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Road to Hoe

Posted by languageandgrammar on February 10, 2009

If there is anything worse than using a cliche, it’s trying to use a cliche and getting it wrong. You would think we wouldn’t get something wrong that’s been repeated so often! I like to call these instances Close but no cigarette.

One of the more common examples of this is saying It’s a difficult road to hoe instead of It’s a difficult row to hoe. They sound so much alike that the mistake shouldn’t be that surprising, but it’s also a good example of how we so mindlessly use a phrase. If we stopped to think about it even for a second, then we would never talk about how difficult it is to hoe a road.

Not only does it not make any sense, but we already have enough trouble with potholes in the roads—we don’t need people digging more with their farming tools.

–Paul

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Like a Bull in a China Shop

Posted by languageandgrammar on January 29, 2009

Most cliches have enough truth to them that, while the use of the phrase is monotonous and ineffective, there is at least some logic behind using it. That’s apparently not the case with the ever-popular like a bull in a china shop.

Based on a recent episode of The Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters program, bulls are apparently discerning and respectful shoppers when it comes to china. In an episode when they tested whether red was a color that infuriated bulls (it’s not), they also set up a mock china shop to see how the bulls would react, fully expecting that grandma’s china would soon look like the windows of a home that had had the misfortune of being located along the 18th fairway during the Beer and Vodka Semi-pro Golf Tournament.

The staff set up rows of shelves loaded with plates inside of a bull pen, and the bull walked up and down the aisle as if he were shopping for the perfect wedding gift. Even when a second bull was added to the pen, the china was left largely unscathed as the bulls dodged deftly down the aisle and between the rows of china.

To me, what was busted was another cliche.

–Paul

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I Want to Be a Statistic–Sometimes

Posted by languageandgrammar on April 23, 2008

A statistic is a numerical value or fact or an inanimate numerical representation of a piece of information. Examples include 53% of the the vote, $3.59 cents per gallon, a .309 batting average, and 63% of all bananas that my co-worker brings to the office do not meet the limited ripeness standard necessary for him to enjoy eating them.

Being inanimate, of course, means that the numbers, themselves, are neither good nor bad, but we often interpret them to be something that is either positive or negative. The commonly used (euphamism for used with annoying regularity) expression I don’t want to be a statistic typically refers to something tragic, often a death statistic. Not only is that morbid, but it doesn’t make much sense to me.

I’m going to be the bigger language expert and look past the lack of logic of being a statistic (it’s not possible for a person to be a numerical representation of fact) and discuss only the lack of logic of focusing on negative statistics. I can think of a couple of statistics that I would be happy to have represent me–100% forecast accuracy (I’m a meteorologist, remember) and 1,000,000 books sold (and a writer).

There are times that I’d love to be a statistic.

Note: A couple of comments recently mysteriously disppeared from the site. Ok, so it was no mystery. We accidentally deleted them while deleting spam. We vow to be more careful.

–Paul

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