Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spot On

“Hit the nail on the head,” “spot on” and “put the pedal to the metal” all rock. You’re “spot on” when you “hit the nail on the head” or conversely you “hit the nail on the head” when you’re "spot on.” It’s Tautology 101. Then once you’ve “hit the nail on the head” and receive all the kudos which come from being “spot on,” you can “put the pedal to the metal” and hightail it out of Dodge. These little verbal short cuts “can put you on the same page” with your counterpart on some social network and before you know it you’ll both be exclaiming “sounds like a plan,” which has to be one of the most annoying locutions to have ever been produced in the history of language. These phrases are like shibboleths, they circumvent normal discourse and spare the enunciator from the trouble of having to put a human activity into words of his or her own making. Sure if I’m a pilot with a failing engine and an air traffic controller is leading me to a nearby landing strip, “sounds like a plan” might be a helpful shortcut. “Sounds like a plan” is great when you don’t have the luxury of being able to think. But choosing words is like getting up in the morning and deciding what to wear. They're an expression of identity and the epidemic of catchphrases which seems to be spreading out of control and for which the CDC has come up with no effective vaccine is turning human discourse into a massive small talk convention. You may note some obits ask for donations in lieu of flowers. Those who wish to express their approval of the above post are kindly requested to refrain from saying that it’s “spot on.”

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