There is a constant evolution and use of words and phrases that somehow seep into the public discourse about the issues or merely the news of the day. When the media pick them up it seems that all the pundits and “spokespersons” for the administration start using them over and over. They are like a bunch of lemmings following the current trendy catch phrases and sometime seem intent on using them rather than even attempt to consider other words or phrase choices. They get over used and wear on the nerves of those who admire the Queen’s English and the abundance of words and expressions available to communicate ideas. Let’s take a look at only a few of them and see if you are as worn out with them as I am.
End of the day–A nice use of words from our British brothers. It was first given wide spread coverage during the First Gulf War in ’92 by some of the British military personnel. It is a perfectly good phrase to take use to the conclusion of an event or episode and predict the outcome of that occurrence. It faded a bit but then revived in the Second Gulf War when the British took an even more active role in the fighting and occupation of Iraq. Now it is bandied about for all manner of political or economic discussions. How about “when all is said and done” if they want a little punch to their comments? They could simply say that when the outcome is reached this will be the result. The fancy ones could even use the term denouement when speaking of the end game of event. Sometimes one wants to reach into the TV set and throttle the repetition of end of the day speakers. Watch CNN or Fox or any of the others tonight and the odds are you will hear that phrase sometime during the broadcast.
Shovel-ready–You envision someone with a hard hat on a construction site speaking about the beginning of a new project. Of course the use of the word shovel is really a throwback. How many modern projects utilize a shovel anymore? In case those speakers haven’t heard of Caterpillar or Deere there are lots and lots of mechanized machines that do the lifting these days. Why can’t they simply say we want projects that have been completely permitted and zoned and are ready for construction to begin. Of course these days that permitting and zoning approval is no small matter. Heck, even for a small footbridge over the local creek you probably have to file an EPA environmental impact study. Next thing you know they will be talking about our next Moon expedition being “shovel ready”. Enough already. How ab0ut saying they want projects that are ready for the dirt to fly!
Body of work–Every art curator must getting hives listening to the constant use of this one. You even hear it now talking about athletes and football coaches. They are simply saying to take a look at someone’s record or history. So, just say that. What “work” exactly are they referring to with regard to some wide receiver? Even politicians are having this phrase applied to their endeavors. Lots of folks would question whether or not anything the pols do in Washington would constitute work. These people aren’t Da Vinci with a body of work to be examined or a writers or poets. Shut it down and come up with something more appropriate to the circumstances.
Exit strategy–Now this one is used for military situations, diplomatic matters and even in the economic realm. It’s an ok phrase like all the others until it gets overdone. Why not simply ask how are we going to get out of this mess? Of course we could use that cousin of “end of the day” and ask what is the “end game”. Nothing wrong with wanting to know what Plan A is or even Plan B in any situation. Then we should simply ask what is the long-term strategy for this situation. The phrase sounds too much like a Bernie Madoff sipping his brandy and thinking about his plans to bolt to Brazil like Ben Jack Cage. Of course old Bernie was off on his timing a bit. If you don’t remember Ben Jack Cage then look him up. A very colorful character who managed to get away with it and spend his waning years on the beaches in Brazil with young gals and rum drinks.
The British call them biscuits and we call them cookies. Almost all our language comes straight from the Mother Country but we have some with different origins like this one. The early Dutch had a word for them–koeckjes, which meant small sweet cakes. That is what they were called in New Amsterdam then New York. Of course is it pronounced “cook-yehs” and that is the word and pronunciation that stuck over the years and centuries. You buy those small Dutch sweet cakes all the time for your children and grandchildren. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com