Provincial Letters

Far from the mad crowds of the city, Blaise Pascal passed comment on the strange behaviour of this urban contemporaries in his Provincial Letters. The connection between them and this blog is somewhat tenuous.

My Photo
Location: Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My star sign in Superstition. And I didn't believe in reincarnation last time, either. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance. I am a fanatical ant-fanaticist. I am bigotted only where bigots are concerned. I am a fundamentalist atheist. I'm proud to be a product of evolution; I know it in my genes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Posted @ 05:05Phrases of our Times

This piece was originally conceived back in March. For various reasons, it's being lying about not getting published. As I'm very much in the communicating vein again, I thought I'd finish it up and unleash it on the world before getting down to some newer stuff.

Better — or, at least, more widely-known — commentators have dealt with the mind-numbing banality and sheer ignorance of such cliché-utterances as "political correctness gone mad", "another example of the nanny state" and "it's only common sense". I, on the other hand (as opposed to this hand), wish to deal with some phrases which seem to be authoratative, necessary and meaningful simply because they are none of these things.

Some will, no doubt, accuse me of pedantry, others of stupidity. Go ahead, enjoy the moment.

"Hygenically removes germs"

As featured on a bottle of liquid soap.

The soap in question is clearly marked "Antibacterial". So one may safely assume that it removes bacteria (i.e., "germs"). This is a prime example of the unnecessary adverb. Why "hygenically"? If the removal was unhygenic — with which one must assume the makers wish us to contrast the action of their product — what would that mean? Would it mean that that not all (or not a significant proportion) of the germs were removed? In that case the product would be inefficient. Or would it mean that the removal process itself was unhygenic? This would imply that the removal process somehow made things worse.

So does "hygenically removes germs" mean that the process is hygenic or the process is efficient? If the process is hygenic then that does not imply that the result of the process is improved hygene, merely that the process doesn't denegrate hygene. If the process is simply efficient (i.e., resulting in improved hygene) then the phrase is meaningless since it is irrelevant how "hygenic" the removal process is, so long as it works.

One suspects that the makers really meant to say that the use of their product improved hygene: "Removes germs and improves hygene".

A stunning piece of meaningless twaddle. But not dangerous.

"Unauthorised use of these waters can be dangerous"

As featured on Alexandra Dock, Grimsby.

Doesn't this imply that authorised use of the water is safe? Or, at least, not dangerous. Why doesn't it simply say "These waters can be dangerous"? Which, I assume, is what they mean.

This appears to be an attempt to endow the sign with some "authority". It's the meaningless twaddle that is the direct result of trying too hard to say what you mean. Wake up, all stretches of water can be dangerous if one is stupid enough; "authorisation" is no proof against stupidity.

"For adult use only"

As featured on cigarette packets.

This either means "only for use by adults" or "only for use in and adult manner". As it stands it is another piece of twaddle which needs erradicating.

The only reason I can see for the double meaning is so the manufacturers of such products can use whichever interpretation appears convenient in any situation.

"Based on a true story"

Or, "Inspired by real events", etc.

A man walks into a shop, buys a chocolate bar and walks home again. This is a true story.

The film has a man walk into a shop, buy a chocolate bar and get kidnapped by aliens.

This phrase proves nothing since your never know which bits are "true" and which bits the "story".

This is a dangerous, devisive phrase which attempts to inject veracity into the drug-induced meanderings of the mindless idiots who write the sort of sick-making emotional potboilers to which this phrase is applied.

As usual, comments would be appreciated. And, of course, further examples of twaddle-speak would be very much enjoyed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back Woja!

One of my favourites is the quizmaster use of the phrase "would you associate" e.g. "With what musical instrument would you associate Yehudi Menuhin?" Well he reminds me of a distant Scottish relative who played the bagpipes so therefore, I am quite correct in answering that I associate him with bagpipes.

They usually accuse me of being pedantic too...

Thu Oct 26, 08:02:00 pm BST 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Almost forgot - "Nothing acts faster than Anadin"

So I take nothing...

Thu Oct 26, 08:03:00 pm BST 

Post a Comment

<< Home