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09/05/2016

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Memo to all the people less than 600 years old: your whole language is wrong.

:-)

Yeah, yeah, I know, perpetual evolution, no true "correct" and "incorrect," etc. But I still think it's wrong.

Very handsome web site you have there.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read or heard cliché used as an adjective. Just found this in Garner's Modern English Usage which says you can run into problems using either clichéd or cliché:

Both are 20th-century coinages: the OED dates clichéd from 1928, cliché from 1959. And both have their detractors.

Clichéd is spelled like a regular English verb's past participle, although it does not correspond to any such verb. But probably because past participles often serve as adjectives, clichéd sounds comfortable to English ears.

In French, cliché is participial in form (analogous to distingué, outré, and passé), answering to the verb clicher (= to click). So while clichéd sounds like an English participial adjective but traditionally isn't one, cliché is a participle in fact--just not in English. And clichéd might be called a double past participle.

The current usage I most hate is "versus" -- lots of people these days seem to think it's a verb, as if it were spelled "verses"


"I will verse you in chess."
"No, I am versing John next. Then after that Jim verses Dave."

I verse, you verse, he, she, it verses.

I first heard this years ago from kids playing computer games. As these kids grew up no one ever corrected them, and now even sports talk show hosts, younger ones anyways, are using it that way.

Gaahhh! I've never heard that one. I am deeply shaken. Sports people are terrible about that kind of thing of course: "The Cardinals are going to have to think about how to defense the pass rush."

It's only very recently that I started hearing "cliche" as an adjective. "That's so cliche", etc. The occasion for my little outburst here was a song lyric that said something like "I know it sounds cliche...". So I'm surprised to hear that it dates back to 1959. I'm pretty sure it hasn't been more than five years or so since I first heard it.

I admit I don't know what a double participle would be. My grammar is almost exclusively ear-driven. But I think when we steal words from the French they become ours. :-)

I'm not sure I know what a double past participle is either; it's the kind of term that makes my brain pretty much shut down. But I think maybe it means there are two forms to choose from -- like "forecast" and "forecasted". The forecast employment level..., the forecasted employment level...

Oh, that makes sense. I've always had a little trouble with that.

Yeah, yeah, I know, perpetual evolution, no true "correct" and "incorrect," etc. But I still think it's wrong.

The changes I get annoyed with are when a word with a unique, useful meaning gets clobbered to mean something else, leaving us without any word to convey the original meaning. But constructing an adjective from a noun often adds meaning to the language and is arguably a fine tradition of the English language. (E.g., access, impact, highlight, debut)

Very handsome web site you have there.

Thanks!

At first I thought you were referring to words like "impactful". I hope not. You mean things like "impact point?" "Debut recording?"

Now that you mention it, I don't think "cliche" followed by a noun would bug me as much as its use as a standalone adjective, as in "That's so cliche". "Cliche lyrics" doesn't grate quite as much for some reason.

But they do grate. ;-)

AMDG

The words I mentioned began as nouns only. 'Access' for example, was not a verb until as recently as the 60s. Although in checking etymology it appears I may have been wrong about 'impact'.

Rereading my second comment I see where I caused confusion. I wrote "constructing an adjective from a noun often adds meaning to the language" where I should have said "another form", not just adjective, since that's more what I had in mind (none of my examples are used as adjectives as you notice).

A noun-to-adjective transformation is pretty common in some forms, e.g. "the bus driver". I agree that "that's so bus" sounds whacky and informal, and probably not the best option in all social contexts, but I wouldn't agree that it is bad for the language. "That's so yesterday" is pretty common and it would be hard to convey precisely the same nuance any other way with any efficiency.

But--to run this into the ground--"That's so yesterday" is very slangy, whereas "That's so cliche" just sounds like standard usage, but off-key. More importantly, it does convey a specific nuance, which "so cliche" doesn't. It does something interesting, by using one word to dismiss the past and at the same time convey a certain cynical twist about the speaker's doing so. Only the immediate past--yesterday--is even worth mentioning; the rest is just irrelevant.

I'm surprised "access" as a verb even goes back to the '60s. I think of it as computer-ese from somewhat later, though I guess that only indicates that I first heard it then.

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