Anorak News | Plain Speaking

Plain Speaking

by | 24th, March 2004

‘JUST when Rio Ferdinand was thinking life couldn’t get much worse…it got a whole lot worse.

‘To be honest…’

‘BAD: Rio’ says the Mirror’s caption, below a picture of Rio with his characteristic lip-chewing expression.

What’s he gone and done now? Broken a curfew? Failed a breathalyser? No, something much more serious.

Ferdinand, in the opinion of the Daily Express, is guilty of using ‘cliché-ridden sayings’ – or clichés, as they are usually called.

The Plain English Society has compiled a list of annoying phrases, in a brave attempt to get some publicity on its 25th anniversary – or, as the paper has it, to stamp out (not at all cliched, that) tired and irritating expressions.

Top of the list is ‘at the end of the day’, which, to be fair, we have heard from Rio’s well-chewed lips on more than one occasion.

But what of ‘to be fair’ itself? Or to be more specific, ‘to be fair’, as in its current incarnation, meaning its opposite, ie, ‘to be honest’?

Oh dear, now we’ve got them going. At the end of the day, ‘to be honest’ is the worst phrase of all in the opinion of Plain English spokesman John Listor.

‘It means the next thing that will come out of their lips will not be honest,’ he says.

But at least we know where we stand with ‘to be honest’ – at the end of the day, it might not be honest, but its meaning is plain enough.

But of ‘to be fair’ there is no mention. Instead, these Plain English chaps are getting hot under the collar about such innocuous phrases as ‘go forward’.

Never mind. There is still one bastion of good English. As the paper modestly notes: ‘The Daily Mirror has won the Plain English award for its clear use of language on three occasions.’

What’s that, then: three awards or three occasions upon which language was used clearly?

At the end of the day, we’ll probably never know…’

Posted: 24th, March 2004 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink