Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Avoid clichés like the plague? He begs to disagree

Durable, easily handled, yet retaining somehow the flavor of its coinage, the classic cliché has fought philology to a standstill: it sticks and it stays, and not by accident... “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” “It takes two to tango”--[o]bservations like these have been road-tested, times beyond number, and discovered to be sound. They are laden with experience, and yet somehow jaunty. Some witty individual must have coined them, somewhere, but they glow with the accumulated knowledge of the race. They are clichés, and they belong to you: as a speaker of English, they are your birthright. Use them proudly. And when life hands you a lemon, remember that it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

-- James Parker, “Let us now praise... the cliché”

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