Writer’s Block: Thoughts From ‘Outside The Box’

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By Corinne Wnek

writers-blockAround this time every year, researchers at Oxford University in merry old England release their list of the newest overused and most irritating expressions in the English language today. This sounds like a fun job for someone like me who loves words and I just might send them my resume.

Making the top ten in the listing is “no brainer”, “moving forward” and “with all due respect”. I’m guilty of using this one a lot, especially when I have to disagree with disagreeable people. But I would like to add three more contenders to Oxford for consideration.

I cringe every time somebody tells me to “have a nice day”, especially when it’s eight o’clock in the evening.  For quite a while now ‘have a nice day’ has become the ‘see ya’ or ‘thanks for shopping here’ replacing the simple ‘good-by’ as the standard sign off after trying to end an encounter with someone. Why can’t we say what we really mean?  It’s time for ‘have a nice day’ to go!

Another meaningless expression that I am losing patience with is “How are YOU doing today?” as if the person asking the question is really anxious to know. And if they are, they better be my therapist, my doctor or my mother. But let’s see now, how AM I doing today?

Well, the economic picture is grim, gas is higher than ever and I just found out that I’m not smarter than a fifth grader. My allergies are already out of control and nothing is helping. That’s how I’m doing. Thanks for asking.

Then there’s the classically short “hey” expression that made its way into the language. This is right to the point. It says “I acknowledge your presence but don’t want to get involved in a conversation with you.” At least these people will never ask, “How are YOU doing?”

Life is hectic and shortcuts are the order of the day. But the proper use of language has gone the way of spats and the corset. Now, call me old-fashioned but I think that what we say to people and how we say it still matters. Maybe when we say the world is becoming cold and impersonal, what we really mean is   we are becoming cold and impersonal to each other.

We need to stop using meaningless expressions, like Patrick Swayze in the movie “Ghost”, who always answered Demi Moore’s “I love you” with “Ditto”. But I’m sure there are cynics out there who will say that hoping for more meaningful relationships with each other through the improved use of our language is, well,  like ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.’


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