I’m adding this one at the suggestion of a Prints the Chaff reader.
How about confining references to Mecca to the city in Saudi Arabia?
A pilgrimage to Mecca is one of five things a Muslim must do at least once. What say we avoid likening a sacred duty to stopping by a vacation spot, nightclub or spa?
Thomas Marzahl suggests:
As an editor at Agence France-Presse, I frequently run into the word
“dusty“, usually used to describe a town or village where not much is going
on and is rather run-down. Inevitably it’s a place in the Third World or
developing world… I don’t think there’d be a lot of people who would
describe a small Bavarian village or an English hamlet as dusty. So it’s the
Tubmanburgs in Liberia, or Bunias in DRCongo that get labeled as such…
carrying with it a whiff of condescension.
Banned for life? I’m not sure. But dusty should be used with extreme care.
Bruce, just Bruce, offers:
Here in Georgia, one of North America’s tornado regions, I’d love for some caffeine-deprived reporter to someday slip up and write that “the tornado sounded like a golf ball, and it dropped hail the size of freight trains“.
Angelo Young sends these from Mexico:
I couldn’t find (on the Banned for Life page):
“shark-infested waters off the coast of…” or,
“comes on the heels of…” or,
because I live in Mexico, this one pops up on my radar: “drug
czar.” Since he’s fighting drug use, shouldn’t it at least
be ANTI-drug czar?) or
any use of “ubiquitous“
And here’s a couple about my current home, Mexico City:
Any variation of “the polluted, crowded, crime-ridden metropolis”
“ubiquitous green taxis“
and, in Mexico travel writing, get rid of any variation of “…the
hibiscus spills over the walls of…”
Steve Parker sends these observations:
For anyone in earthquake country, the inevitable description called-in to a radio news station right after a temblor:
“It was like a rolling motion” and (with apologies
to tornado country) “It sounded like a freight train”.
For those who hate “state-of-the-art”…how about …
the various uses (and spellings) of “hi-tech,” “high-tech”
Sidharth Bhatia sends these fresh (stale?) from the Asian Subcontinent:
I chanced upon your excellent site and enjoyed all the cliches. In
The detenus flew the coop
Ministers air-dashed to the capital (they never fly, always airdash)
A favourite with ponderous edit writers: Needless to say (then don’t
India, we suffer from the hangovers of the archaic English left back
by our erstwhile colonial masters, the Brits. While they have moved
on, we stick to Ye Olde hackneyed English. And of course, our hacks
have also developed their own peculiar phrases. Some examples:
It ill behoves us
Culprits nabbed (a very common headline)There are many more, but let me conclude with this story of the editorial
writer who was summoned by his boss and told to write 600 words on some
matter of grave importance. At about 5 p.m., when there was no sign
of the editorial, the Big man himself went to his junior’s cabin and
found him lying slumped on his typewriter (those were the days before
PCs), quite dead. On the sheet in the typewriter there was just one
Adam M. Gaffin has had it with:
“Leafy suburb” and “gritty former mill
town.” Sometimes when reading the Boston Globe, you get the
idea that those are the only two types of communities in eastern Massachusetts.