House of Ill Repute (nostrathomas) wrote in linguaphiles,
House of Ill Repute


This is a subject I've been thinking about for a while, and the more I think about it, the more confusing it becomes. What exactly is a cliché? We are supposed to avoid using them in writing, but, when I look at lists of clichés, inevitably, I see words and phrases that I think are just idioms of the language, and not clichés at all. For example, I have seen on one list phrases like: king's english, give a damn, hard to believe, life imitates art, freudian slip, etc. These are just random examples of phrases I do not believe are clichés at all. Some are convenient ways of expressing ideas that would require more words and time to explain (how else would you say 'freudian slip'?) or they're just inherited phrases. Much of our conversation with each other involves patterns of expressions and formulaic language. If all fixed expressions really are to be avoided, I think discourse could hardly go on, even in writing. Is 'how are you?' 'I'm fine, thanks' clichéd?
Some cultures highly value what we would call clichés because it shows cultural fluency. Why are English (among others?) speakers so allergic to them?
What is a cliché? Are all idioms clichés?

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