Apologies on the lack of posts
Life has been quite eventful, which means focusing on finding and researching some unnecessary journalism phrases has taken a back seat. As always, feel free to send in submissions.
In the meantime, I read this paragraph in Henry Hitchings’s “The Language Wars: A History of Proper English” (if you follow my other Tumblr, you’ll notice I reference this book a lot) that I thought was particularly relevant to this blog (and while it’s not journalism-specific, you’ll see there are several expressions he mentions that pop up in stories all the time):
Which verbal tics especially annoy you? Rhetorical questions, perhaps? Among people I know, the list of irritants includes (brace yourself for a long sentence) stock phrases and nuggets - ‘at the end of the day’, ‘I think you’ll find’, ‘in the final analysis’, ‘with all due respect’ (the noun respect is in some, mostly political contexts an irritant in its own right), ‘new and improved’, ‘tried and tested’, ‘at this moment in time’, ‘bear with me’, ‘it is what it is’, ‘I’m good to go’, ‘almost exactly’, ‘sum total’, ‘lifestyle choices’, ‘quality time’, ‘decisive factors’, ‘the lowest common denominator’ (with the implication that this is a small number, though often it isn’t - the lowest common denominator of 1/3 and 3/4 is 12), ‘no problem’, ‘in fairness’, ‘to be honest’, ‘free gift’, ‘workable solution’, ‘positive feedback’, ‘it is incumbent upon me’, ’ you don’t want to go there’, ‘no offence’, ‘but…’, ‘can I ask you a question?’, ‘for your convenience’, ‘do you know what I mean?’, ‘what’s not to like?’ - and a number of individual words that have become wearisomely common - synergy, sustainable, paradigm, ongoing, facilitate, empower, customer-facing, closure, process in the contexts to do with emotions and psychology (‘the grieving process’), and perhaps also context to boot, along with creativity, leverage, proactive, pathfinder, challenge, solution, 24/7, co-worker, user-friendly, the emptying situation (compare ‘There is crime’ and ‘There is a crime situation’) and the pretentious historic (‘This is an historic moment for Basildon’). These words and phrases are disliked because they seem devoid of meaning; they have been discoloured through overuse or through too much unthinking use, and have become filters, formulae, dumb scraps barnacling the truth. But we can’t eradicate them. The reason? It’s not rocket science. And yes, dear reader, I added that one just to pique you.