Idioms in Distress

December 11, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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I’m worried about the idioms.

They’ve been feeling neglected and, really, misunderstood. It’s not that people have stopped using them, no; they’ve been notably present in everyday speech. Rather, the problem is misuse. It is apparent that, as my mom used to say, American idiom use is becoming more and more “culturally illiterate.” Observe:

“Cooking for kids is something that hits very dear to me.”

One of the contestants on Top Chef All Stars uttered this mangled phrase, a dreary combination of “hits close to home” and “is very dear to me.” One idiom or the other, dude: YOU MUST CHOOSE.

“We were deep in the weeds trying to dig our own graves.”

While this example (from another reality show I have  now forgotten) does not Frankenstein two idioms together, it has ignored the common sense one-idiom-per-sentence rule that all speakers would be advised to follow. Again, you must choose: are you “deep in the weeds” OR “trying to dig your own graves”? You can’t be both—not in the same sentence at least.

Finally, a sports metaphor:

“[John Doe] has been a home run hitter for the Dallas Cowboys.”

Now, I’m sure the ESPN announcer who uttered this sentence is aware that the Cowboys play football, not baseball. This is not an example of sports confusion, but rather proof positive that the most potent sports metaphor seems to be a baseball metaphor: applicable anywhere, even when talking about other sports.

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