OxfordDictionaries.com has today announced that is adding words like “awesomesauce” and “manspreading” to the dictionary. But what about banning fatuous words and phrases? Here are some of Rod Liddle’s suggestions…
1. Battling my demons
It was demons who held down that actress/pop singer/reality TV star and rammed four kilos of charlie up her left nostril leaving her with the IQ of an aspidistra and, alas, sans septum. It was demons who injected Philip Seymour Hoffman with skag. The same creatures regularly waylay the former footballer Paul Gascoigne and siphon several litres of vodka down his throat. And it was demons, a whole bunch of them, who grappled with Brooks Newmark’s penis and ensured it was transmitted digitally to the fictitious woman of his choice. This was my original Fatuous Phrase of the Week, an utterly ubiquitous cliché which serves only to absolve people from responsibility.
It’s official — the most abused word in the English language these days. Today, as used by the whining liberal left, it means anyone who isn’t an able-bodied middle-aged white heterosexual male in full possession of his mental faculties. In other words, about 70 per cent of the population. It is frequently used as a euphemism for educationally retarded, or what we used to call ‘backward’; when you hear on the news that someone was ‘vulnerable’, you have to work out for yourself why. It’s not usually hard.
A horrible and recent confection of, again, the liberal left. You can be a ‘climate change denier’, which means you might doubt that global warming will cause quite the catastrophic circumstances — annihilation of all living creatures, earth burned to a crust, polar bears howling in agony — dreamed up by the maddest, gibbering eco-warriors. You can be a ‘sexual abuse denier’, which means you have one or two doubts about Operation Yewtree. The term was appropriated from the Holocaust, of course: the implication being that to deny that absolutely all 1970s celebrities were busy molesting kiddies is on a par with denying that Nazi Germany murdered six million Jewish people. Nice.
I bought some lavatory paper the other day which was described as having a ‘classic design’. It wasn’t papyrus, just the same design the firm has been peddling for 20 years. Has a word ever been wiped on so many bottoms as ‘classic’? Debased is an understatement.
6. Wrong side of history
If someone says you’re on the wrong side of history, it is their smug and stupid way of telling you that you are wrong and they are right, no more. Conservatism is always on the wrong side of history because it is innately opposed to profound social change. Social change is always good, you see, even when it is utterly calamitous or pointless or unnecessary.
7. Bravely fighting cancer
An odious phrase, patronising and meaningless. All people with cancer are bravely fighting the vile disease. All people with cancer who have decided not to fight it, but instead to acquiesce, are also brave — perhaps even more brave. In truth, ‘bravery’ and ‘fighting’ have nothing to do with it.
8. Let me absolutely clear about this, Evan…
Any politician who tells you that he is about to be absolutely clear about anything is actually about to lie to you and probably steal your spoons. It also suggests to me that they are anything but clear in their own minds as to what the hell they are talking about, especially if they say it with great emphasis while banging their fists on the table. As used by Ed Miliband on a daily basis, probably to his family about what he’s having for breakfast, as well as to the rest of us about other stuff.
Used as a synonym for ‘noisy’ or ‘thieving’. Almost always used in conjunction with ‘diverse’ (qv) and also…
Yes, Huw, it’s a vibrant and diverse community, but it’s also a very vulnerable community, which is why the police have been brought in to stop angry local people attacking them. I think we can say, Huw, that the angry local people are on the wrong side of history.
That’s enough vapid idiocies for now. One of these days I’ll gather up a bunch of other phrases which are deliberately misleading, obnoxious or disingenuous. If my demons let me. Right now they’re waving a bottle of Sancerre in my face and sniggering. Don’t they know how vulnerable I am?
This is a version of a column first published in November 2014