Written by IainB

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

image for Cliches: hated or loved?
Blue Sky Thinking

At the end of the day clichés are in use 24/7 literally across the world. Businesses that want to think outside the box love to hate them, and leverage them into as many aspects of day to day running. At this moment in time, it boggles the mind how overused they are.

There isn't a business consultant worth his salt that doesn't have an extensive repertoire of business orientated clichés, whilst a footballer would be unable to conduct an interview without the verbal pause that is the cliché.

Clichés are often confused with idioms, and it is better to be safe than sorry when determining what is and what isn't a cliché. For there is no doubt that the cliché is the most detested element of the English language, and they should literally be avoided like the plague.

The Telegraph conducted a recent poll to find Britain's top hated clichés, with "24/7", "literally" and "at the end of the day" topping the chart in the top three positions. Whilst investigating the culprits, consultants and footballers were determined to be the most ardent users of clichés. In one recent interview, David Beckham the Lord of all that is clichéd, said: "At the end of the day, I have to make the number seven shirt my own, and move forward, you know." A prime example of how to fill an interview without saying anything.

"At the end of the day", which came in at number three, is basically the least meaningful of clichés, and is used solely as a filler whilst the speaker gets their brain into gear.

"Literally", which came in at number two, is used by people who absolutely don't know what it means. Literally it means "as written", but it is becoming to mean "approximately", or "metaphorically". Unless referring to one of the dozen men that did, the phrase "I was literally walking on the moon" is obviously wrong.

"24/7", which topped the charts, came originally from American stores that were open all the time to distinguish them from the "7/11" that were open from early until late. At some point, this was adopted into language to mean "continually", and is now slowly coming to mean "a lot". Some people are using it 24/7, and annoying their conversational partners.

People who work clichés into 110% of their conversation are the unique breed that is the Business Consultant. These best of breed take clichés to the next level and can barely construct a sentence without one. To them, everything is a paradigm shift moving towards a win-win situation, and people lap it up. They bring to the table scalable client-centred market driven products that hit the bottom line, and people nod sagely claiming complete understanding. If it's not pushing the envelope it's not worth doing, and if they cannot hit the ground running, they are not in their 'A' game. They cannot sit on their laurels and have to run to stand still in the cliché game.

In the UK, the Crystal Mark is a campaign by lovers of the language to stamp out clichés from common parlance (for some reason, this article failed to achieve one). It has been gaining ground over the past thirty years and is now the excellence that companies strive for when producing literature. The Plain English campaign Crystal Mark run is not rocket science, but good common sense. To help, see if you can make it through the day without a single cliché.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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