Tuesday 1 August 2017

Grammar: Clichés 4

Are anything other than marches ever "inexorable"?

Climate change will stir “unimaginable” refugee crisis, says military. (Guardian Dec 2016, "cause")

I just lost my phone on a 253 bus in Hackney, if anyone wants to restore my faith in humanity.
(And his phone.)

blaming others for your own inadequacies (This 60s “joke” seems to be experiencing a revival, as is “bleeding heart” as an adjective.)

In motor racing, a driver doesn’t “win”, he “claims poll”. Or is it “pole”? Nobody knows what “pole position” means.

Today has so far been the kind of day whose news headline concludes "before turning the gun on herself" or "spree". (@lucyfishwife)

It's like a tic: anyone writing about @RichardDawkins has to call 'New Atheism' a 'fundamentalist sect'. So so dull. (‏@StuartJRitchie)

It’s OK to claim you or your company have won an award or prize, but avoid calling it “the prestigious Prix Femina” etc.

In dating profiles people claim to like “nights out, curling up on the sofa with Netflix, long walks on beaches”. (They used to claim to have a GSOH and like fine dining, concerts, the theatre and walks in the country.)

We think marketers should be able to target at a highly granular level, not simply in aggregate. (Turn Inc. ‏@TurnPlatform)

I don’t think it’s necessarily bad criticism but I lose interest SO FAST when a writer describes things as “utterly hateful”. (Jack ‏@notquitereal)

Scientists dim sunlight, suck up carbon dioxide to cool planet (reuters.com. Try "extract".)

Priests are defrocked, lawyers disbarred, the titled are stripped of a knighthood, doctors are struck off, and kitchens are ripped out.

shark-infested waters ("We just live here," say sharks.)
ravaged by drought 
In crime-ridden districts, local government is riddled with corruption.
Opera singers are “trained”, bureaucrats "faceless" and old movies "creaky".

For reasons nobody understands, terrorists in the Middle East are always killed by the dozen. (Karl Sharro ‏@KarlreMarks)

Menopausal women “suffer in silence” – or rather they’re always being told they “don’t have to suffer in silence any more”. (Any year for the past 40.)

convulsed by revelations
diffusing tension (Defuse, if you must.)
world-class university (Mary Beard asks "Can we retire this one?")
wading through treacle
Our staff has worked round the clock.
all the way back in 2006 (urbantyping.com)
thin veneer of civilization
One day buildings, parks etc will just be “restored”, instead of “restored to their former glory”.

 What people do as they perpetrate a cruel, unfunny practical joke.
grin: What people in books do instead of talking (“That’ll be the day!” he grinned.)
cackle: evil old women
guffaw: evil old men
snicker: the Eternal Butler holds your coat
snigger: laughing at something rude, or at somebody’s embarrassment
giggle: what girls do
Titter ye not, madam!

If you are looking for a celebrity to endorse a beauty product, they don’t come much bigger than Cleopatra (pictured, played by the late Caroline Mortimer). (NS July 2015, "more celebrated".)

Some of history’s biggest historians answer some of history’s biggest questions. (Dan Snow, "most important")

The largest burglary in British legal history/Britain’s biggest burglary (BBC)
The UK wants to "deepen" joint naval exercises with #AUS (increase, step up)
I'm for spending more on deeper affordability. (greater)

Thousands of documents were put in the post run yesterday as part of the deepening battle against plans for the state to offer more electronic benefits through banks. (Belfast Telegraph, "escalating, worsening")

Noah Horowitz... has been appointed director of the Americas for Art Basel. It’s a new role largely aimed at “deepening” the fair’s network of museum directors, biennial curators and private collectors across the US and Latin America, according to [Art Basel's director]. (The Art Newspaper means "widening".)

Can China fix its mammoth water crisis before it’s too late? (serious, acute)

a major step (large)

The author of Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World, says that the ailments treated with bubbling spring waters constituted a “ludicrously big list”. (collectorsweekly.com)
The list of suspects is large. (Lists are long, or short.)

After three years of painstaking work with historians and curators from English Heritage, a virtual reality model of significant parts of the Abbey has been created. (Medievalist.net)

They clamber through muddy fields to find churches, take rural buses to remote farming towns, stand outside houses they’ve never seen before but have sought out with years of painstaking research. (Atlas Obscura)

They have a pompous language all their own, full of banalities and contorted proverbs. Hunting creatures “fill their bellies”, all kinds of things “are beginning to stir”, and the turtle is “a prized delicacy for the cooking pot”. 

The language is overcooked: "elemental forces", "time of plenty", "spectacle", “formidable”, the monsoon has reached the “peak of its power”, the “mighty Amazon river” – you get the picture. (Times)

held at bay
reaping the rewards
escape unscathed
Deer roam the streets looking for succulent grass.
A single strong gust has proved an ill wind for Daisy.
All kinds of places are a “natural amphitheatre”.

Wolves slink, but puppies scamper, lambs gambol and bees blunder.

Daniel Finkelstein points out that the Camerons “swept” out of Downing Street, “swept” to Buckingham Palace, “swept” out again, while Theresa May is “sweeping” into No. 10 etc etc.

Police scoured the countryside for clues.

In books they always talk of “braving” a journey, as inevitably as they speak of the “good ship Twaddle ploughing the main”.
 (Mr Bazalgette's Agent, Leonard Merrick)

A mansion sits in ruins in Virginia (Lies in ruins. Before that, it stood on the banks of the river X/in acres of parkland etc.)

This abandoned Antarctic base sits nearly unchanged since it was forsaken in the 1950s. (remains)

The lost mushroom masterpiece unearthed in a dusty drawer. (Atlas Obscura)

The world's oldest-known formula for toothpaste... has been discovered on a piece of dusty papyrus in the basement of a Viennese museum. (Daily Telegraph)

Why is the press obsessed with presaging all museum news with 'It was hidden away in a cupboard for years'? Drives me loopy. That dusty stores thing drives me nuts - do they know how hard we work to keep the dust at bay? (Catriona ‏@catrionacurator)

Don’t call your project Somethingland – it will end up as a few walls in a jungle covered in creepers. Same goes for utopian community Somebodyville. And don’t tempt fate by calling your nation-state the United Anything.

I'm at a symposium of architects: so far we've had a few "specificities", several "interrogates" and lots of "engages".

Curves are neither feminine nor masculine, skyscrapers are not phallic, and art with right angles isn’t 'architectural'. (AdamNathanielFurman ‏@Furmadamadam Planting tall green things isn’t “architectural” either.)

The proposals for Thamesmead are very very standard: 'sense of place', 'active frontages', 'residential mix', 'affordable', lots of brick… 'human scale', 'civic', 'streets and squares', 'high quality public realm' blah blah blah, oh, and Crossrail is coming so prices will [rocket]. (Douglas Murphy ‏@entschwindet)

The first phase of controversial architect Will Alsop’s plan to transform Barnsley into a Tuscan hill town has collapsed, it emerged today. (Guardian Sept 2015)

We wanted to create a family environment with a bit of a wow factor. (Homes under the Hammer It means open-plan, with down-lighters and granite counter-tops.)

Walking from one side to the other is like tackling a red-brick maze. “You can see why we call it Alcatraz,” says a local councillor. (All brutalist estates end up being called Alcatraz, says architecture writer Owen Hatherley.)

Don't want to read a novel that's zany, magical, lyrical, heartbreaking, fun, masterly, accomplished, bravura, hip, streetwise or humane. (Andrew Male ‏@Andr6wMale)

"Lyrical" is always the biggest turn-off for me. It means there'll be lots of descriptions of fruit and nothing will happen. (‏@Lord_Steerforth)

What is it with 'mediated' and 'contingent' cropping up all over MA and PhD writing? (‏@Amanda_Vickery)
Also lots of 'mapping onto' and looking at things 'through the prism of'. (Corrina Connor ‏@corrinacellist)
Top 3 UCAS Personal Statement words of the day: zeal, relished, and using inept instead of adept. (‏@adamcreen)

The Romance Writers’ Phrase Book may be responsible for a lot. (She replied with complacent buoyancy, her body ached for his touch etc. "The authors seem fond of the word 'tapered'. Everything 'tapers' in this book: fingers, hair, shoulders, legs, waists... taperitis", says a reviewer.)

The end, when it came, was swift.

More here, and links to the rest.


  1. I like that models and lawyers are always top models, top lawyers. I always wonder what happens to the mediocre ones.
    In my own special field of interest, 'well-cut but shabby tweeds' etc drives me mad: the author might as well say 'I am now going to tell you what to think about this character'.

  2. And actors in porn films are all "stars"!