Saturday 29 July 2023

Grammar: Clichés 7

Goats are sure-footed.
Neo-Nazis are surprisingly dapper.
Terrible parents, once gone, are not bad but flawed.

Curating when you’re selecting or editing, styling when you’re tidying or rearranging.

Winks are solemn. 
Legal disputes are bitter.
Cars guzzle gas.

She works tirelessly for a good cause.
Shots rang out from the book depository in Dallas. (Aerial America)

Backwaters and fishing villages are sleepy.
Rights are enshrined in law.
Summer of holiday chaos looms as BA scraps flights 

Dreams end in tatters. (Hugh Pearman. Why, when they’ve been shattered?)
Old working men have calloused hands.
What do wildfires do? They rage.
Oases are stumbled upon.

All women in positions of power are called headmistressy, or compared to schoolteachers.
Any long, sprawling novel is referred to a loose, baggy monster.

Young women used to be saddled with a kid, or four kids, in the days before the pill.
When writing about cave art, don’t forget the “dim, flickering light of tallow lamps”.

Why is every department in the NHS called a pathway now? (@DerylLynn)

Please ban the phrase “Costa del [place in Ireland]”.

Are there ever any theatrical reimaginings that aren't bold? (@AlexaCoghlan) (When not bold, updatings are "timid".)

How come you can only ever die 'suddenly' or 'peacefully'(@Jessicae13Eaton)

There are a lot of sentences like, “I treasure the memory of his warmth, wit and generosity of spirit”. (The Times on Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’ memoirs) 

Fought and died for my country... promised my dying mother... sacrificed my marriage... greatest achievement... mother would have been proud... (Marcel Berlins)

Open the news pages today and you’ll struggle to find a policy that isn’t a flagship policy, a ruling that isn’t a landmark ruling, a speech that isn’t a landmark speech, a criticism that isn’t damning, a negotiation that isn’t frantic, a blow that isn’t devastating, a large company that isn’t a giant or a majority that isn’t vast. (Andy Bodie, Guardian, 2014. Or a feature that isn’t key or core.)

His tale is one of “hedonistic pleasure”, “dilettantes” and “love nests”. (Robin Ince on a book detailing Diana’s last day.)

Spanish Stonehenge revealed after brutal drought dries reservoir. It was thought to be condemned to the history books... (Daily Mail. Severe drought, confined to the history books.)

As the excellent Caravanistan travel website notes sardonically, all writing about the region should... include the following words: crossroads, journey, Soviet, ancient, adventures, misadventures, nomad, steppe and Marco Polo... The reader ploughs through potted histories... her pen nib all too often turns to lead. Life in the Soviet Union was no “bed of roses”; Stalin did not wear “kid gloves”; Tajikistan is “as poor as a church mouse”. (The Times on a book about the Stans, 2019)

In grad school, I used to rewrite jargony sentences with their easier to understand synonyms, which made me realize how often some of those sentences were just nonsense.

In grad school, I learned to rewrite my sentences to add jargon so the very senior male medievalist wouldn't give me a C-, or worse, say - "I'm not grading this because I don't want to depress you." I learned to sound how he wanted me to sound. I hated it. (@Lollardfish)

A fluent writer, he is fond of a zippy anecdote. Yet he can strain for effect, favouring pushful adjectives (“remarkable”, “unprecedented”) and overegging his plaudits: William Hazlitt is “the hardest-hitting writer the political left has ever known”, Scott’s Waverley launched a “worldwide craze for historical fiction”, and Nash’s designs for Regent’s Park and Regent Street were masterpieces without which “modern London is inconceivable”... D
abs of colour are applied predictably: clubs are “ritzy”, dinners “gargantuan”, appetites “ravenous”, letters “impassioned”, aristocrats “debauched”, meetings “convivial”, necklines “plunging” and breasts “voluptuous”. And he claims that society was “literally soaked in opium”. (Henry Hitchings on Robert Morrison’s The Regency Revolution)

In book reviews, according to Twitter, "magisterial" means I'll be bored and "lyrical" means there won't be any jokes. The following descriptors are also off-putting: Stirring, poignant, whimsical, romp, liminal, poetical for a novel, heartfelt, breathtaking, voice of a generation, rip-roaring, urgent, triumph of the human spirit, ominous, jaunty, sweeping, beguiling.

I have a joke about literary fiction. Well, less of a joke, more of a 'compelling meditation on love and loss, couched in prose of pellucid beauty'. (@jonathancoe)

What one word puts you off a book? I’ll start: experimental, powerful, definitive, must-read, page-turner, heart-breaking, the next..., urgent, searing, timely, could not be more relevant, essential, This essential powerful tautly evocative debut, heart-stopping (@fliceverett)

The abundance of recipes points to one clear obsession: a society woman’s beauty was as plain as the nose on her face. (Robert Muchembled, Smells. I wonder how it read in the original French?)

More here, and links to the rest.

No comments:

Post a Comment