It’s late on the last day of the year and the light is fading fast at 3.30 in the afternoon. The rain is continuing to beat down, the weather determined to ensure that 2012 remains the wettest since real records began. (No Met Office when Noah was a lad!) I always enjoy the lists that the media produce at this time of the year about people, trends and fashions they would like to see the back of. So here is my little two pennyworth of overused phrases, words and manias in 2012. Feel free to comment, add your own favourites or point out any obvious omissions.
This year will be remembered for a marvellous Olympic Games in London. Despite all our cynicism, the UK team performed well beyond our expectation and the games organisation (with the single exception of ticketing) was better than we could have hoped. The volunteers were also the stars of the event and showed the world that Britain can really be a “Big Society” but why did we not reward their efforts with something more then the title of “Games-makers”?
To continue, popular culture in 2012 was represented by “Gangnam Style”, the most watched video ever of some podgy Korean Guy whose horse riding dance style is now as famous a Korean export as Hyundai or Samsung. But enough now! The best seller lists were dominated by “50 Shades of Grey” , which appears not to be a handbook for older people on how to colour their hair but a much copied soft porn book which has left us with the expression “Mummy Porn”, two words that sit as uneasily together as BBC and Trust or Syria and Democracy.
As ever the political world worked hard to keep us all well supplied with clichés. How about the “Squeezed Middle”, which all the parties soon realised meant nothing as no one considers themselves to be at the absolute extremes of any spectrum. As a consequence, Labour and Tories fought over the tenancy of “Hard Working Families” until someone twigged that the expression may have appeared to exclude those actually not in work so it became “Striving Families”. Politicians and public sector managers could not avoid substituting the mundane “In future” with the more business-like “Going Forward” especially when undergoing some rigorous media interview about their latest cock-up where they had identified “New Challenges” or “Training issues”. At least we have been spared “Fiscal Cliff”.
Given the amount of coverage given to “The Beautiful Game”, it is hardly surprising that it has its own compendium of clichés and hackneyed phrases. Some that come to mind are “We’ve all seen ’em given”, “He was entitled to go down” or “He earned/won the foul”. These last two are really just code for “he dived”. The phrase that I most have a problem with is: “Got his shot off” or “He couldn’t get a shot off” Where has this come from? It sounds like something that belongs in “50 Shades of Grey”.
The young, as ever, are the ones we look to for sources of new uses and additions to the language, but we have heard “Like” and “Amazing” rather a lot now, so go and find some new ones, “pur-leeze”! If you are a white kid in Altrincham or Knutsford, calling your friends “Blood” or “Bruv” is also an “Epic Fail”, “innit”. Should you get the chance to appear on any reality TV programme be sure to explain that whatever it is you are doing is “Your passion”, and when you are up against it state that you need to “Up your game” and perhaps “give 110%”.
Other contenders would be “Bucket List”, “Gone Viral”, “Planking”, “Haters”, “On Trend” or “Trending” and “Superfood”. This post was inspired by my own curmudgeon streak and by an article in this morning’s Times which made me smile. They had nominated “Flat White Coffee” ( basically just coffee) , “SIRI”, (The phone software you can talk to -the future never seemed so lonely) and “Onesie” ( basically bed-wetter couture).
If any of the above are unfamilar to you , the you need to “get with the programme”
A Happy New Year to you all as you Go Forward to meet New Challenges in 2013!