Friday, September 23, 2016

Cliches, buzzwords and Hal Jackson.

About 75 times a minute at work, I pull a modified Hannah Arendt and rail about the banality of evil (use of language.)

Mostly, I deliver a screed against cliches and the use of the same words over and over again. In fact, I've taken to going onto Google ngram viewer and charting the increase in the usage of some of those words that drive me ape.

Uniqueness of language is what makes language effective. That's why, for instance, Orwell says, "Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print." 

In brief, language is like sushi. It had better be fresh.

The other night, I took a taxi home and I heard an old-timey radio announcer deliver this sign-off: "Stay calm, kiss your Mom, and ban the bomb."

That made me think of the great, old radio announcer, Hal Jackson, an African-American radio announcer who was on the air for over 70 years until he died in 2012 at the age of 96.

Jackson used to start his show like this, "Recorded stars from here Mars, whether you're here or in your cars. You're relaxing with Jackson, in the house that Jack built.

Jackson would say goodbye with these words: "It's time for me to pack the shellac and hit the track, but I'll be back."

A simple point today: simple,unique use of the English language.

Unfortunately, that ain't simple.

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