Plain speaking has always begged the question; “Why must cliché’s wreak havoc on our language?” Take it from me, the cliché is no longer what it’s cracked up to be and has simply become old hat. It’s high time we all step up to the plate and put the whole cliché kit and caboodle behind us…now! Trust me on this, if we don’t change, we are all going to pay the piper for the cliché’s overuse.
Most cliché’s are threadbare from overuse anyhow and do nobody a world of good in getting any single point across. They plain and simply have been worked to death and nearly all fly in the face of reason. I pity the poor soul who speaks a language other than our own and then tries to follow these types of thoughts from start to finish. They are often forced to take a powder when those around take umbrage at their being a stickler for the rules of language and then read them the riot act when they don’t understand. What gives with that?
Now mind you, the use of cliché’s is no skin off my nose personally, but in the grand scheme of things are we not creating a no-win situation when we overuse cliché’s? To put it even more simply; plain speaking grinds to a halt when we interject clichés that ride roughshod over reason. I propose that we bring down the curtain on cliché’s and let them rest in peace once and for all. It really is high time we go back to the drawing board and start from scratch on this one.
I have plans to review my own cliché habits with a fine tooth comb and eliminate these pesky devils from my own speech. I think I am well on my way already. Once I am fully successful, the population at large will be able to follow my train of thought in one fell swoop. I’ll find no need to any longer explain my ridiculous cliché’s which have been gumming up the works of my speech and writings. Undoubtedly my speaking in public will grind to a halt at first, while I will rethink my choice of words; but with fast and furious thought I will simply put my best foot forward and speak plainly. Yes, from here on in I am putting my foot down on clichés, putting my money where my mouth is, putting my shoulder to the wheel, my nose to the grindstone and ridding myself once and for all of the offending cliché.
Oh mind you, I expect my position will not be popular at first but as every schoolboy knows, cliché’s just ring hollow and mean not what they say. With all due respect, they have left our language in a shambles. Please forgive me if I sound like I am beating a dead horse, but after all it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease and as I stated before, cliché’s are a tough row to hoe for the non-native listener. To them we all sound as if we speak nonsense anyhow and when we use cliché’s they most likely think we have bats in our belfry. At the minimum they probably think we have heads full of rocks. Sure it seems simple for us, the native speaker, to understand a cliché’ but it is they, the nonnative speaker, who bears the brunt of interpretation. We may even try to go full circle in explaining our cliché but they will still think our brains are on the fritz. I propose from her on out we make sure we have both feet firmly planted on the ground and speak only plainly without the use of cliché’. Even if our words end up sounding as dull as dishwater we will have been polite and hit the nail on the head whenever we speak. It should really be our mission to no longer muddy the waters with our ridiculous cliché’s.
Like it or lump it, the cliché death knell is now tolling. It is just a matter of time and we will be off and running; forging ahead in a new direction of plain speaking. You can mark my words on that. I see a new day dawning for all of us. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and speaking plain and succinct will be our trump card, our ace in the hole if you will. Finally, the cliché we will no longer be our own worst enemy. In the long run, as we change our speech patterns, these clichés will no longer be at the tip of our tongue waiting to spring the trap on unsuspecting foreigners and others. It is truly in our own best interest to go whole hog in this new direction…right now! You can bet your bottom dollar the non-native will be eternally grateful to all of us when we finally initiate this change. No longer will they think of ways to give us a dose of our own medicine and lead us down the garden path too! It will be a brave new world I tell you.
By now a few are thinking my ideas are not worth a plug nickel. Some perhaps even feel
I can’t see beyond the nose on my face and are just trying to make the fur fly. There are probably even those that think I am trying to take all of us to hell in a hand basket with my crazy ideas. Others will even draw a line in the sand and insist language has always played fast and loose and who am I to go off half-cocked sowing my apples of discord. But let me bend your ear just a minute longer on this subject. I am normally a man of few words, and I may sound like a stuffed shirt right now, but cliché’s simply are meant to string the other person along while saying absolutely nothing of value. I am not alone in my hue and cry as I am quite certain Noah Webster was a man cut from the same cloth as I. Over the years I have grown to respect Noah and his letter perfect dictionary. This is a man who knew which side his bread was buttered on. I hold forth he is probably spinning in his grave right now the way the cliché has taken our language by storm. Why, if he were alive today he would take up the cudgels and knuckle down to the task of eliminating cliché’s from our speech and writings. Regardless of how much we huff and puff; we would find it impossible to take the wind out of his sails. There would be no resting on your laurels in his company. He was no slouch when it came to the jot and tittle of language perfected. To go against his grain would be to meet your waterloo and in no uncertain terms, you would be toast! Don’t even go there!
Let me put in one last parting shot about the use of cliché’s. Perhaps, since I brought it up, I should be the one to pave the way for this change. Perhaps I should dish up a serving of humble pie for myself. After all, I am probably guilty in perhaps some small way of using cliché’s. So, as of right now, I pledge that soon you will see neither hide nor hair of cliché in my speech or writings. I, in fact, entertain high hopes for all of us we can bear this burden together in the heat of the day and once and for all lay the cliché to rest. And I don’t mean maybe. We are all in the same boat here. If we do an about face now, take this slow and not bite off more than we can chew, I know we can change. I tell you, it will be a grand and glorious day when our dear foreign friends no longer need beat a retreat at our mixed-up words. Are we up to the challenge? Can we run the gauntlet and run these clichés to ground? Let the chips fall where they may. We can’t let this opportunity slip through our fingers. The time is now to get the show on the road and rout out the cliché from every nook and cranny of our speech and writing. We need no longer let the rest of society lead us by the nose. I urge you to return with me to the fold of cliché free speech. It will be a red letter day for all of us if we get our act together this very minute, get on the ball and finally nail this puppy to the wall. Then we can all shout in unison. “Way to go!”
Copyright © 2004 by Scott J Haas