The Queen’s English – Beat Them Back If You Can

In the last Sunday of December of each year in the New York Times, Timothy Egan provides us with a list of words which might have been colorful at one time but whose overuse has caused them to become pallid clichés and candidates for his dumpster. 

For 2013, the following:

Artisan.  Once a legitimate term for cheese makers, it has be co-opted by all the wrong people selling all the wrong products.

Brand.  A close second to artisan, it is used as a noun and a verb for worn out self-promotion.

Gluten-free.  To the less than 1% of the population who suffer from celiac disease, gluten-free products like bread are essential; however, the term has been attached as a cheap commercial promotion to all manner of products which have no relationship to celiac (e.g., Red Bull?).

Whatever.  Whatever.

24/7.  Once a somewhat clever, significant term meaning “full-time”, it has been trampled to death.

End of the Day.  If 24/7 implies infinity, end of the day is a dreary counter to it.

World Class.  It’s enough to know that Donald Trump has at one time or another described every one of his showy ventures (including casinos, golf courses, hotels, and condominiums) as world class.  It’s about as significant as today’s ubiquitous and nearly meaningless standing-ovation at just about all theatrical productions.

Best Practices.  An outgrowth from management seminars, it has infected everyday language; it’s just a notch below world class.

For those interested in such things, the Times publishes a column called “Meh List” in its Sunday Magazine, putting the finger on people or phrases whose use-by date has passed.  It’s written with a sharp pen.

Belated Happy New Year! 

– Ken Butera


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