Monday, July 30, 2007

Cliches

I would love to say that I don't use cliches, but I'm sure that a quick perusal of old posts would reveal me a liar. The everyday cliches don't bother me--partially because there is a slight sense of irony about it. The ones that put my teeth on edge are business ones and now I am in the corporate world. My company has two that seem to be required--"in the weeds" and "drill down" as in, "I don't think we need to get in the weeds of that program. You'll only need it once in a while," and "I look up the client and then I can drill down to get account details." I've even heard the bizarre combination of "get down in the weeds and drill in." ??? Drill into the weeds?
[Side note: On the summer mini-series "The Starter Wife" which I caught sporadically, mainly for the divine Judy Davis, Debra Messing's character is speaking with her lover and she worries about the speed of their relationship by saying, "What if it seems like we're reading the same page but one of us reads faster and is ready to turn the page and the other isn't?" Her lover says, "What if I'm dyslexic?" She says, "Are you dyslexic." He says, "No, I just wanted to torture the metaphor some more."]
I've always hated "on the same page." Hate it, hate it, hate it. I can agree with you, follow you, understand you, etc., but we are NOT on the same page. I once made a list of alternatives--clicking the same link, on the same URL, vibrating at the same frequency, anything. I think it's the follow along mentality of it that bothers me--the boss says it, so everyone else follows. It's also the overuse of one or two phrases. I may use cliches but I don't use the same cliches all the time. I worked for a woman who used to drive me mad by never starting a project until she "had her ducks in a row." Both the use of the phrase and the procrastination it entailed.

One that I keep hearing and it's use is expanding (no puns intended) is "footprint," as in, "What kind of footprint is GM leaving on the rain forest." That is the way I first heard it. I've since heard it to describe both tangible objects, "Those new flat screen monitors have a really small footprint on the desk," and intangible objects, "I don't like how much of a footprint Adobe programs leave when they're running." ???
I understand the first usage--as in an imprint left behind, like a footprint. I don't quite get the same image from an object sitting there--existing there. In my days in retail merchandising that would have been what we called "real estate," as in "Those little objects take up a lot of real estate with not much return." In other words, to push the metaphor, they don't pay enough rent for the space.
So, why do we use cliche's--to have a common language? A verbal shorthand? Laziness? or precision?

1 comment:

musing said...

I hate clichés, too!

If I use them it's because of laziness. I'm either too rushed or too tired to think of something more original.