I hate it when clichés catch on and start replicating. It gives me severe repetitive stress in my eardrum. And now that the year is kaput, it's time to put to rest all the overworked and utterly punishing words and phrases that plagued in 2008.
Start with "Wall Street/Main Street." When Barack Obama started pitching this one, for the first time I felt let down by his oratory. It got said so much by so many people that it was like there weren't even two Americas any more, just two streets.
And if I hear "no-brainer" or "not rocket science" again, I fear I might start spurting blood from my eyes. It's not just bad for the body, it's bad for the language.
For word health's sake, as well, I beg you - everyone - never mention "shameless self-promotion" again. It is a shamefully unoriginal thing to say. It is a curse that will work in reverse. You will severely disadvantage your cause if you say it. It is bad for your brain. It will ultimately damage your very lips. Lay off it.
If somehow our vocal cords could really do the nails-over-blackboard sound, I would rather that were the latest cliché than something like "having said that," or its nasty little sibling "that said." Every time I hear either one, phrases that could easily be varied once in a while with a "still" or an "in any case" or "however," I cringe so hard it puts out my back.
"Disingenuous" is also maddening. It was such a sweet, diplomatic variant when it made its debut two or three years ago, but now it's trickled down to cocktail parties and meet-and-greets, and people think they can get away with calling you a liar to your face if they just say you're being disingenuous. It gets me all dis-and-punchyouous.
Then there's "the narrative." This insidious little image has made its way from French philosophy through poetry to the sports reporter's patter in an alarmingly short time.
Now we have to listen to the "narrative of the game" and "the new narrative of the pitch." I beg you, stop.
The same with "the conversation." Because the media suddenly found out it needs to include you, it's all "O, come on into the conversation," meaning "Buy my rag."
It's gotten to the point where after you meet someone the first time and you're leaving, instead of saying "Goodbye, see ya," they say, "I'm glad we've had this chance to begin the conversation." Oh fuck, I knew "the conversation" was lurking here somewhere.
And then they look at you so cleverly, like you're both in on a big clever secret. Hey, when "see ya later" isn't good enough, make up your own cliché if you're so clever. Like "Well, this is where our two narratives diverge."
Perhaps the most annoying is "Look!" On any panel on any channel, nine out of 10 pundits before "answering" any question say "Look...." Besides being deadly repetitive, it offers you the insult of an outright order. Stop it!
Not all oft-?repeated words are over, though. For instance "green" as verb, noun or adjective. Not even the great slayer of language, Stéphane Dion, could damage it. "Green" is still ever-?happening. It's a whole constantly updating dictionary of necessary neologisms, new practices, devices, processes.
"Green" is going to be hard to wear out. No matter how many oil companies paint themselves in shades of slime, "green" will still be one of the great new words. Especially when it gets used creatively, as in "1 million acts of green." That's fresh green fecund language. I approve.
You can say it again along with a peace greeting I'm loving: "Peace be upon you." We could say this more. So, peace be upon you. And have a green new year.