Brace yourselves, America, for the annual avalanche of verbal chestnuts as the holidays approach.
As they say, “‘Tis the…” (Wait. No. Sorry.)
Last month John E. McIntyre, an editor at The Baltimore Sun, penned his annual anti-cliché diatribe, hoping to set the wordsmiths of America on the right path before “Deck the Halls” and “We Need a Little Christmas” start ringing in the rafters of every shopping mall.
McIntyre’s yearly exercise in futility is doomed as surely as “the white stuff” (a phrase he proscribes) falls every December up north. That shouldn’t stop writers and editors, however, from resisting our own worst impulses.
“Some readers (and, sadly, some writers) lap up this swill,” McIntyre growls. “It is familiar, and the complete lack of originality comforts them.”
He adds that in journalism, “the resort to trite language appears to be understood as an honorable ritual rather than as a failure to recognize the hopelessly hackneyed. So, for you who have ears to hear, heed the Holiday Cautions. Chestnuts roasting by an open fire are fine, but they can be kept out of copy and headlines.”