Tag Archives: phrase fads

Words And Reason – Phrase Fads and Media Speak: Linguistic Landmines

by Cynthia Clampitt

Cynthia Clampitt
Cynthia Clampitt

When the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies” came out, we started getting phone calls from people who wanted to borrow money. Seriously. Never mind that we lived thousands of miles from California or that our name wasn’t spelled quite the same—or even that it was a purely fictional TV show (this was before “reality shows” began blurring the lines). People were beginning to believe what they saw on TV.

Of course, any warning about believing what you see on TV can be extended in several directions: things that are “based on a true story,” for example. But I think a key area in which people need to be careful about believing what they hear on TV is language. Some commentators like to use big words but don’t always use them correctly. A few TV writers think the words sound impressive and use them, and it spreads, creating a phrase fad. Soon, people outside the media start using things incorrectly because they’ve heard it a couple of times and don’t even think to question whether the user knows what he or she is saying.

For example, it suddenly seems as though everyone who wants to point out that an issue has been raised is saying that it “begs the question.” It’s popping up on TV (news and entertainment), in print, and in conversation. Continue reading Words And Reason – Phrase Fads and Media Speak: Linguistic Landmines