Monday, March 21, 2011


I adore words. I simply squirm in sheer delight when I read couplets of complete untimed perfection. Or pharsing so sharp and cunning it causes bubbles of saliva to sizzle and pop on my tongue.

[via: we heart it]

Yet I am a traitor.

I am incredibly guilty of rehashing the same words over and over again - “lovely”, “adore”, “delightful”, “swoon”, “tasty” or “delicious”.

Michelle Kerns of the Book Examiner condemns the heavy-handed use of cliches:

In 1984, George Orwell created newspeak, a language "whose vocabulary gets smaller every year."

While newspeak exists only in fiction (or does it....?) an even more pervasive, destructive language-killer has infiltrated the newspapers, news sites, and literary blogs of the world -- reviewerspeak.”

So fed up with the plethora of book reviewers “parroting” clichés at the expensive of providing insightful critique, Kerns has developed a list of the 20 chief clichés. But after blogging the list, a whole bunch of readers left more examples of painfully stale descriptions that are liberally littered in book reviews. And so "The 2010 Reviewerspeak Awards" were born - Kern monitored 20 media publications each month (form The New Yorker to Entertainment Weekly) to calculate the number of cliches used per publication. Kerns ensured awards were judged on equitable merit, by going one step further and determined the ratio of number of cliches per 100 words.

There are "compelling" and "powerful" graphs to back up this "fascinating" and "complex" data.

Wow, it's true that cliched statements are devoid of any real meaning - as the above sentence sounds incredibly stark and sarcastic.

In the aftermath of the awards, apparently Kerns was inundated far from pleasant letters. This baffles me, as reviewers should be encouraged to stretch themselves and come up with innovative and most importantly informative interpretations. If the novelist worked so hard to produce the work in question, shouldn't the reviewer? I certainty feel like I need to pull my socks up and sidestep cliches in the future (last cliche withstanding).

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