Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cliche List From Hell on Acid

Breaking news for editors! Hunker down with the red pencil--Lake Superior State University has had it up to here with overused phrases and cliches! How they missed "ironically," I don't know.

From Reuters:

CHICAGO (Reuters) - For the New Year please, dawg, spare us your tired, meaningless cliches: ponder the "surreal," take a deep breath before "breaking news," lose the "person of interest" and, whatever you do, don't utter "hunker down."

The curmudgeons at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, warmed their cold hearts again for 2006 with their 30th annual list of words, phrases and acronyms deserving banishment from everyday usage.

"Surreal" led the new year's list of cliches culled from the poisoned e-mails of fed-up contributors. The all-purpose adjective belongs to dreams, not spilling from the lips of talking TV heads, complained list contributor Tracy of Murray, Kentucky.

"Hunker down" made the list for wearing out its welcome as a description of bracing oneself for a hurricane, a political storm or just a staff meeting.

When someone meets the criteria "person of interest," it ought to imply trouble with the law, but its broadening application may "mean the rest of us are too boring to deal with," wrote in contributor Patricia Johnson.

In the interests of clarifying the vagaries of the U.S. Senate filibuster, denizens of Washington, might want to lay off "up or down vote," the list-makers said.

And can the deliverers of television news be excused from having to provide a dollop of "breaking news" with every broadcast?

The verbal shenanigans of shill also came in for criticism; among the doozies: "designer breed" (does my mutt qualify?), "first-time caller" (who cares?), "pass the savings on to you!" (suuure), and "97 percent fat-free" (leaving 3 percent lard).

Other phrases marked for death: "an accident that didn't have to happen," "junk science," "get-r-done" and "talking points."

Oh yeah, and calling people "dawg" doesn't make you cool, it just contributes to that pile of cliches awaiting the spring thaw.