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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 09:37 GMT
Campaign's call to ditch cliches
The Office's David Brent
Speaking like David Brent is unprofessional, the campaign says
"At the end of the day" has been voted the most irritating phrase in the English language in a survey.

"At this moment in time" and "like", used like a punctuation mark, shared second place and "with all due respect" came fourth.

The Plain English Campaign questioned 5,000 people in over 70 countries.

"Using these terms in daily business is about professional as wearing a novelty tie or having a wacky ring tone on your phone," the campaign concluded.

The problem with cliches is they're things that were once fresh but are now so overused that, as soon as you hear it, your mind shifts your impression of the speaker
Plain English Campaign

Spokesman John Lister says footballers are partly to blame for "at the end of the day" coming top in the survey.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "I think people find it so irritating, partly because it's so overused. If you've ever hear a football interview it seems to be used in place of a breath or a comma.

"It's also partly because it's so wrong - at the end of the day I go to sleep."

He said it was time for people to start inventing new analogies.

"The problem with cliches is they're things that were once fresh but are now so overused that, as soon as you hear it, your mind shifts your impression of the speaker," he said.

"You're thinking 'Why are they using these phrases that are so old hat? You're not David Brent - he's funny on The Office but you're not funny in real life'."

Outside the box

The Plain English Campaign is an independent group "fighting for crystal-clear language and against jargon, gobbledygook and other confusing language".

The survey was compiled as part of the build-up to its 25th anniversary on 26 July.

In the survey, business phrases, in particular, received the bulk of the nominations.

They included "thinking outside the box", "value-added" and "ballpark figure".

Other terms which received multiple nominations included "singing from the same hymn sheet", "24/7", "I hear what you're saying" and "to be honest".

Mr Lister urged people to follow George Orwell's advice to "never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print".

As Mr Lister said: "These phrases are so yesterday".




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Emma Howard
"Over-used phrases are a barrier to communication"



SEE ALSO:
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11 Mar 04  |  Business
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Cool is still cool
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