Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Little Less of This

The art of the witty headline has been lost as newspapers cut staff. Now they just use clich├ęs such as "A Little of This," under a photo of kids playing in a puddle. I predict this tiresome usage will die out in a year.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I was at the lobsterman's house with my brother who lives in Maine. He had invited everyone up to a family reunion and this was the night for lobsters. Bill knew the lobsterman and had ordered twenty-five lobsters. "How much?" Bill asked. "Forty-five," said his friend. "Wow!" I thought. "Less than two bucks each!" But the "hundred and" was left unspoken because anyone who lived there would already know that.
You have to think local.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Back in the Day

I've been hearing people say "Back in the day..." for a year or so now, referring to a situation that no longer exists. You are supposed to smile knowingly in response. Back in the day we used to say "Back in the good old days"?
Going forward (another overused locution) we won't hear this in a year or three.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


So this blog is about shifts in emphasis or usage. I like to track the rise and fall of a word's prominence. Take 'not.' A few years ago people would follow a positive statement with the word not: "I love you. Not!" After a couple of years this usage faded. I read that this usage had also been popular for a while in the '30s'.
Several months ago a scientist on a radio program I was listening to began each answer to a question with the word 'so.' "Why is the universe expanding?" "So the universe used to be quite small...." Is 'so' replacing 'well' as a meaningless introduction or threshold to something you want to convince your listener of?