Wimbledon tennis commentators serve faulty phrase
This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 at 2:38 PM
So Wimbledon is over for another year and I’m trying to adjust to tennis-free days. One thing I won’t miss though is that horrible phrase ‘the business end’ that too many of the match commentators used too often.
I got tired of hearing, ‘well, we’re at the business end of the set now.’ Ugh. Not only is it plain ugly, but like all phrases that become over-used, it jars. You have to be very careful, in writing as well as in speech, about becoming reliant on certain distinctive words, phrases, and devices.
By devices I mean starting sentences with ‘And’ or using brackets for instance. Now, there’s nothing grammatically wrong with starting a sentence with ‘and’ or any other conjunction. I love it in fact because it creates emphasis. And for that very reason it needs to be used sparingly or it will lose its impact.
I bought a cookbook by a company whose copy I usually love. However I was really disappointed by the over-use of brackets on the introduction pages. I know that sounds horribly pedantic but I found it really distracting.
Last year I wrote a post on the misuse of quote marks after reading a book on productivity that had the same distracting effect on me. Ironically it was about how to be more productive by learning to avoid distractions.
It interrupted the flow as I had to stop every minute or so to read the framed word in a certain voice and with particular emphasis. I couldn’t continue with the book unfortunately, so I guess my production isn’t as good as it could be!
But we’ve arrived at the, ahem, business end of this post so what’s my point? Well, it’s just to be careful about over-use of anything in your writing, particularly if it’s a phrase or word that seems to be particularly popular at the moment.
Another example is referring to your place of work as something ‘Towers’. Innocent coined that one years ago and it worked really well for them. It was original and perfectly fit with their young, fun image. But for anyone else it looks like plagiarism or lack of imagination.
If you’ve heard or seen something used, even if you love it, my advice is to avoid it – especially if it’s as horrible as ‘business end’. Unless, of course you can use it in an original, surprising, ironic or clever way.