Thursday 3 August 2023

Grammar: Clichés 9

Does “sits” now mean “is situated” or even “sited”? Paintings hang; fields and cities lie; buildings, statues and pillars stand, but files sit on an official's desk for weeks. The official may even sit on the files.

John Brown’s statue sits alone in the forest. (Grand Tour of Scotland’s Rivers, BBC. JB is quite clearly standing alone in the forest.)

The artwork seen in The Titanic, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the one with five prostitutes in a brothel, actually sits in New York City's Museum of Modern Art. (@jonawill15. Hangs.)

This sits at the heart of our investigation. (Policeman on Donal Macintyre’s Murder Files. Lies.)

The West Wing Building sits alongside Pusey House, one of the city's finest Gothic buildings. (Stands.)

There’s a paradox facing major cities in the US: office buildings are sitting empty while housing is in short supply. ( Standing or lying empty.)

He and his wife Helen didn’t change the room for six years – they even kept the Greek nudes carved out of MDF that lined their four-poster bed. Twenty years later, those two statues now sit outside the ornate shed that is a tortoise sanctuary the Ruffs built in their garden over lockdown. (Guardian 2020. The statues, pictured, are quite clearly standing beside the tortoise sanctuary. And they probably flanked the bed, ie stood on either side of it.)

Thousands of Fossils Sit Forgotten in Museum Drawers. (Lie.)

The cliffside home nestled above the beach. ( Houses, cottages and villages are far too often “nestled” in valleys and hollows. Surely a house on a cliff “perches”?)

Death threats don’t sit on the right side of history. (Alex Massie. Could they stand?)

The footage sat in a basement for 50 years. (Lay? Languished? Skulked?)

A great white whale sculpture now sits in the location where the remains of a prehistoric cetacean were found. (@atlasobscura. In the pic it is clearly lying – how would a whale sit?)

Stanley Spencer’s Resurrection sits above the altar at Sandham memorial chapel, Burghclere. (@ahistoryinart. Hangs.) 

The statue, which sits on a façade of Oriel College. (Cecil Rhodes stands.)

A massive tower block that’s been sitting derelict for years now. (Feldore McHugh. Buildings stand, but oddly they “lie” derelict.)

The gilt bronze effigy of Lady Margaret Beaufort, who died on 29 June 1509, which sits above her black marble tomb in the Lady Chapel in @wabbey. (@NathenAmin. It’s a tomb effigy. It’s lying down. )


My neighborhood is a test site for self-driving cars and I hate it. It’s so creepy seeing a little flotilla of empty vehicles trundling around. (@evan_sruthan. It's usually enemy tanks that trundle.)

A doctor notes that patients are always “rushed” to hospital, and that there’s an air of haste about any media medical report. Another forum member objects to being called brave: It seems that no-one has cancer without "fighting" it, sometimes they win the battle and sometimes they finally lose the heroic struggle blah blah.

If you’re “pulled from the water” there’s not much hope for you. But if you’re “pulled from the rubble after a week” you’re probably miraculously alive.

The bones of an adult woolly mammoth that roamed the earth at least 10,000 years ago have been discovered in the shallows of a north Siberian lake. (Reuters. Mammoths always “roam”.)

That investigation led not just to record fines against Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg being dragged before Congress. (Carole Cadwalladr. Like being “dragged through the courts” or “hauled before the beak”. A beak is a magistrate, translator's note.)

During a strike of criminal barristers: So, he wants defendants and witnesses dragged to court for a hearing that will not go ahead? (@HannahQuirk1)

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach and six up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Parliament. (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

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