Thursday, 18 August 2011

Catechism of Cliché

"A cliché is a phrase that has become fossilized, its component words deprived of their intrinsic light and meaning by incessant usage. Thus it appears that clichés reflect somewhat the frequency of the same situations in life. If this be so, a sociological commentary could be compiled from these items of mortified language." Brian O'Nolan

Brian O'Nolan (1911-1966) was an Irish journalist and writer. His first book At Swim-two-Birds (published under the name Flann O'Brien) is a postmodern masterpiece. He wrote a column in the Irish Times (signed Myles Na Gopaleen), which sometimes ran his Catechism of Cliché.

What is a bad thing worse than?
Useless.
What can one do with fierce resistance?
Offer it.
But if one puts fierce resistance, in what direction does one put it?
Up.
In which hood is a person who expects money to fall out of the sky?
Second child.
If a thing is fraught, with what is it fraught?
The gravest consequences.
What does one sometimes have it on?
The most unimpeachable authority.
What is the only thing one can wax?
Eloquent.
How are allegations dealt with?
They are denied.
Yes, but then you are weakening, Sir. Come now, how are they denied?
Hotly.
What is the behaviour of a heated altercation?
It follows.
What happens to order?
It is restored.
Alternatively, in what does the meeting break up?
Disorder.
What does the meeting do in disorder?
Breaks up.
In what direction does the meeting break in disorder?
Up.
In what direction should I shut?
Up.
When things are few, what also are they?
Far between.
What are stocks of fuel doing when they are low?
Running.
How low are they running?
Dangerously.
What does one do with a suggestion?
One throws it out.
For what does one throw a suggestion out?
For what it may be worth.
What else can be thrown out?
A hint.
In addition to hurling a hint on such lateral trajectory, what other not unviolent action can be taken with it?
It can be dropped.
What else is sometimes dropped?
The subject.

My own attempt here.

http://grammar.about.com/od/blogsandlinks/tp/clichesites.htm


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