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Bugbears and Gobbledegook

John Rentoul

Bogey Pink Bear 9 247x300 Bugbears and GobbledegookI will post some of your contributions to the Banned List, from the comments, via Twitter and by email, over the coming period.* I now have easily enough objectionable words and phrases for a second 100.

But first, some preliminaries.

Heidi Corbally in the comments on yesterday’s Independent article says that “I’m not going to lie” is her biggest bugbear, before realising that bugbear is also cliché. “Doh!” she says. Which is also on the list, although there are disputes about its spelling.

Bugbear, though, is interesting, because it has changed meaning: it used to be a bogey-bear, a creature in the form of a bear invented to frighten children and therefore an object of irrational fear (probably not like Bogey Bear, illustrated). Because of the slang meaning of “bug”, it has come to mean an irritant.

Max Atkinson, the great guru of rhetoric who pointed out that David Cameron’s five points of reformed NHS reform was two too many, checks in with a wonderful dialogue he wrote with his wife between Ms Cliché and Mr Jargon.

He also gave me the link to this fine list of local government jargon (and suggested alternatives, quite often, “why use at all?”) from the Local Government Association.

But it was Chris Roberts who paid me the compliment of pointing out the clichés in my “banal, self-impressed” Independent article:

1. Well, it turns out

2. Shaming

3. The silent majority

4. Put a pen through it

5. Passing remark

I have appealed to a higher authority against his ruling on no 2, plead irony on no 3 but plead guilty on the other three counts and ask for two further offences to be taken into consideration. Being pushed “over the edge” is an over-used metaphor, and it was my opening sentence. And I should have said that “a week is a long time in politics” is as hard to kill as cockroaches, rather than “eradicate”, which comes from the Latin for root, and cockroaches are not plants.

But that would be a bit pedantic, don’t you think?

*”The coming weeks and months” is banned, obviously. “The coming period” is permitted, however, if referring ironically to Trotkyist analyses of why the revolution is just round the corner. Which I wasn’t.

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  • wongo93

    “Flagship store” – yuk.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Broxted/100000542213598 Ron Broxted

    Doh in French is D’Oh.


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