Spoke with a friend regarding the success of a new book he has written about his childhood. It was far away and long ago, but he does have a good memory and clear writing style. The people who lived there then and still do now are buying the book and, presumably, enjoying it.
One reader, however, had to chime in with the fact that the writer was not known to him – perhaps the most superfluous comment of the year. There are nine billion people on the planet who are not known to me, and I am satisfied with it. But the phrase is no more than a conventionality to garner attention – and it leads me to speculate upon the other phrases of this sort that we encounter:
- ” At this point in time “. If you’re giving a history lesson and are tracing the Peninsular wars month-by-month, the expression is excusable. If you’re merely trying to make yourself sound big instead of saying ” Now”, it is not.
- ” My good lady wife “. As opposed to your other one who is bad, or a trollop, or merely a scrap of meat on the plate? Does she describe you in similar terms, and you just haven’t been there to cringe at the time?
- ” I’m putting you on notice “. The speech of the headmaster when he cannot control the class. The vague threat made vaguer by the grammatical pointlessness of it. Throw a rock at the pompous ass.
- ” I hear what you are saying. “. As opposed to tasting it? Or smelling it? As this phrase is invariably followed by ” But…”, perhaps it is the smell that features large…
- ” It is what it is “. Oh thank God for that. I have been in terror that either it is what it isn’t or it isn’t what it is. Existentialism was never this hard and we wore raincoats for that.
My thanks to another weblog writer – Tony – for sensitizing me to baloney. But bad news, Tony. Here in Australia it is sometimes spelled ” Polony “. Same gritty luncheon meat but cruder packaging.