Once we were asked to make a presentation and I made in on the subject of cliches, so here it is: The English-English dictionary gives the following definition of this word: a clich? – is a phrase or idea that is boring because people use it a lot and it is no longer original (Macmillan English Dictionary). The phrases that became clich? s are constantly and mechanically repeated; they lost their original expressiveness and so are better avoided (Arnold I. V. Lexicology of Modern English).
American philologist Jennifer Norton collected cliches which exist in the language. She considers herself quite experienced in identifying clich? s. She realized that many people don`t know what clich? s are. Jennifer Norton gives her explanation what is a clich? her work “What is a clich??” A clich? is not just something that lots of people say; it doesn`t convey some sort of idea or message. A clich? is, in other words, a metaphor characterized by its overuse. She suggested her own test to see if a phrase is a clich? or not. You need to read the first half of the sentence, and then ask yourself, whether you know how the sentence ends? If you don`t know how to end the sentence, it`s not a clich? (Jennifer Norton; What is a clich??).
Gregory Pence is a professor of bioethics; he strives to teach his students that clear writing fosters clear thinking. He discovered a lot of trite or inaccurate phrases when he read the students` essays, the essays on medicine, ethics and money. Most of all he despises such phrases as: “It goes without saying”, “It`s not for me to say” and “Who can say?” He can`t understand why students jot them intheir essays. They have to express themselves on the subject and not to write about any universal things. Gregory Pence has a sneaking suspicion that most students don`t know what they are saying when they scribble some silly expressions. And not only students are to blame for the usage of
clich? s in writing or speech. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the language of medicine, the language of mass media and the world of business are full of such phrases. To use such phrases is like to open Pandora`s Box. And thus, “Sloppy writing leads to sloppy thinking, which is why the author has a “bone of contention” with trite phrases” (Gregory Pence. Let`s Think Outside; The Box of Bad Clich? s // August 6, 2007 Newsweek, p.17).
Thus, a clich? – is 1) a word or expression that has lost much of its force through overexposure; 2) an idea, action, or habit that has become trite from overuse. This is a highly complex subject that it has been treated by different scholars in very different ways. And each approach has its advantages and disadvantages.
Here are the questions to the audience to ask after the presentation: 1) What is a clich?? 2) What is Gregory Pence`s attitude to the “Box of Cliches” (the author of the article)? 3) Come up with any examples of clich? s that you know or remember. 4) Present your own ideas on this subject (topic). This is the list of words and expressions that should be given to the listeners: 1. bioethics – the study of ethical problems arising from biological research and its applications in such fields as organ transplantation, genetic engineering, or artificial insemination; 2. sloppy – careless; untidy; 3. “bone of contention” – the grounds or subject of a dispute; 4. trite phrase – hackneyed/ dull phrase; 5. to express oneself – to communicate one`s thoughts or ideas; 6. to scribble – to jot (jot down) – to write or draw in a hasty or illegible manner; 7. to despise – to look down on with contempt or scorn; 8. Pandora`s box – the source of miseries; 9. to do without smth. – to forgo/ manage without smth. 10. sneaking suspicions – slight but nagging suspicions.