Via The Independent, Robert Fisk carries on The never-ending war against cliché and jargon. Excerpt:
Even the London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury is now, according to its presumably literate publicists, "an attractive space" – when surely "is attractive" or merely "attractive place" would have made more sense. Last week, I even found a "workshop space" available at a conference, thus combining two of my most hated words in one phrase.
The British Museum, I note, is advertising "interactive [sic] workshops" on 11 November. Stay away, O readers. Workshops are for carpentry.
Even old clichés are constantly being revived. "Crackdown" died for a while, but is now in daily use for an "Israeli crackdown" or a "Syrian crackdown" or a Cameron "crackdown" on crime (presumably of a less lethal kind).
A writer in The Lawyer said last week that lawyers were "up in arms" about a website. My God, I used to write in the Sunday Express about villagers who were "up in arms" about proposed motorways that would cut through their "greensward" – and that was more than 40 years ago!
I fear we will always have to live with this trash. I am constantly advised of boring academic conferences whose participants will hold "plenary sessions" – as if they were at the Big Three talks at Yalta or Potsdam.
The Irish Times (again) tells me of New York City Fire Department families who are only now "coming to terms with" their 9/11 tragedies. After which they will presumably be expected to "move on".
Cameron added a new version of this when he last week spoke of "an international agenda that should be progressed" over Libya. Which PR idiot decided to use "progressed" in his speech? Or was it Cameron, the PR man himself?
It goes on and on. Sewage turns into "raw sewage" when people decide to swim through it on the Thames – "treated sewage" being, I suppose, beneficial to health – while politicians continue to "fight for their political life" and Africans die from the "deadly Ebola virus" (the non-deadly version probably being as harmless as the common cold).
Someone at the Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust announced last month that "my background is in lobbying and public affairs, about encouraging people to think outside the box". I really – truly – believed that "thinking outside the box" had had a stake run through into heart.
I thought another ghastly cliché had expired until I read that the television presenter Tim Lovejoy had found that Ho Chi Minh City was "outside of my comfort zone".