Mar. 25, 2004. 01:00 AM
At the end of the day, clichés rule
Irritated by over-used words?
So is the Plain English Campaign
 Click here
for complete
list of cliches

BILL TAYLOR
FEATURE WRITER

Bear with me, we're literally between a rock and a hard place, 24/7 (that's a ballpark figure). But we're singing from the same hymn sheet and, like, to be honest, with all due respect, at this moment in time and at the end of the day, the bottom line is it's not rocket science ...

It's easy for the Plain English Campaign to urge us to avoid clichés like the plague. But I hear what you're saying. Absolutely. The fact of the matter is, basically, the glass is half-empty (or — awesome! — half-full). No one wants to touch base, address the issue, think outside the box, prioritize, push the envelope, move the goalposts. Not even in terms of blue-sky thinking, going forward and using crack troops on a weekly basis.

According to the British-based Plain English Campaign, the buzzwords and clichés above are the most over-used and annoying in the world. After polling its 5,000 supporters in 70 countries, the group yesterday announced that "at the end of the day" is the most irritating inanity, followed by "at this moment in time"; "like" used as, like, a form of punctuation; and "with all due respect."

(U of T linguist Sali Tagliamonte told the Star recently that using "like" tends to peak at age 16. It isn't, she said, "a heinous crime against English.")

The Plain English Campaign was formed in 1979 to oppose jargon and obfuscation, especially in official documents. Spokesman John Lister said similar banalities appear in other languages, too.

"When readers or listeners come across these tired expressions, they start tuning out and completely miss the message," he said. "Using these terms is about as professional as wearing a novelty tie or having a wacky ring-tone on your phone.''

His own least-favourite (fifth on the hit-list) is "`to be honest ...' It means the next thing that will come out of their lips will not be honest."

Star readers shared their own pet-peeve clichés: "Ramping up" — Deborah Pollak, Toronto. "There's no `I' in team" — James Loewen, Hamilton. "`You know' as a comma. `You know what?' followed by the answer" — Frank Chow, Toronto.

And from Bob Griffin of Orillia, the cliché to end them all: "How about those Leafs?"

With files from Star wire services