Monday, March 05, 2007

Today's cliché is tomorrow's proverb

A hundred years from now, period dramas set in 2007 will feature pretty girls with antique rings through their noses informing their parents that they are going upstairs for a, like, chill-out, y'know, and Telegraph readers will coo and purr at this comforting reminder of a more civilised era.

In an excellent response to last week’s Daily Telegraph article (and subsequent 8 million replies) about words and phrases that annoy us, Craig Brown traces the origins of certain “newfangled” expressions and finds that they’re older than they appear. While prescriptivists moan about new words and phrases entering the language, Brown points out that words and phrases like “undies” (as short for underwear), “trouble shooter” and “beat it” (like in Michael Jackson’s classic, pre-scandal, tune) have been around for about 100 years already.

And he makes the point – like all good descriptivists – that attitudes to language change are more to do with attitudes to the users of these new expressions than the words themselves.

Anyhoo, check it out, like. Innit. And other expressions that annoy...

Useful for:
ENA5 – Language Change

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