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catchphrases
Posted: 28 June 2008 05:17 AM   [ Ignore ]
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There’s a fun article by Ron Rosenbaum on catchphrases over at Slate.com. I wonder how many of these are purely left-pondian?

He has an interesting take on the life of a catchphrase, and asks the worthy question, why do some endure and others die within minutes?

Some of the ones he deals with are:

“jump the shark”
“throwing someone under the bus” (off the sled, off the island, under the truck...)
“past their sell-by date”
“Party on” (Wayne’s World)
“Make it work” (Tim Gunn on Project runway—I wonder whether Gunn’s delivery is what makes that phrase “work”.)
“street cred”
“at the end of the day.” (I first heard Tony Blair use that one—it sounds British to me)
“It is what it is”
“Duh.” Rosenbaum says “deserves its longevity”
“It’s all good” He calls this BSBS (Buddhist sounding bull-shit) but he likes it as do I.
“That’s my story and I’m sticking to it” One of my favorites
“not so much” which Rosenbaum says that Sheidlower traces to 2004, but others have traced to the “Mad about You” TV series which ran 7 years starting in 1992.
“My bad” (i’ve despised that one from the moment I first heard it. But it endures)
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” a phrasal template with hundreds of thousands of variations.
“the takeaway” (ich!)
“up in your grill” (do rightpondians call the front bumper of a car the “grill”?)
“go-to” (I presume that’s in the phrase “go-to guy”
“drinking the Kool-Aid” (and Jonestown was such a long time ago)

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Posted: 28 June 2008 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Besides Rosenbaum’s question “why do some endure and others, not so much” I would ask about catchphrases that are gone or almost gone such as “there’s no there there” (Gertrude Stein) and “it’ll play in Peoria”.

Dave has a nice discussion of slang and catchphrases in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: like:

going OJ? (going postal?)

And what’s the etymology of “catchphrase” anyway?  Is the phrase catching something or being caught?  Or does it catch us in some way?  Dave separates the words catch and phrase, MW does not. AHD is currently “slower than molasses in January” (as they say). Oh Wait! AHD separates the words as Dave does.  But provides no origin.  MW offers the date 1842, but no citations.

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Posted: 28 June 2008 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The OED says it’s:

fig. in sense ‘that catches or is meant to catch the eye, ear, fancy, etc.’

There are two citations, the earliest from before 1850. The first is hyphenated; the second is written as two words. The term is trending toward becoming a single word. Whether you write it as catch phrase, catch-phrase, or catchphrase is really a matter of style.

going OJ? (going postal?)

The BtVS usage was in reference to a man battering and killing his girlfriend, not workplace rampage.

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Posted: 28 June 2008 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Of the examples you give I’d venture that only the following would not be heard in the UK:

Up in your grill
Not so much

The others are ‘familiar in our mouths as household words’. (Even ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’, certainly since the recent movie of the title).

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Posted: 28 June 2008 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’m not clear on whether this usage of “not so much” would not count as an example, and if not, why not:

FOOT WARRIOR:
Halt. Who goes there?

ARTHUR:
What?

FOOT WARRIOR:
Friend or foe?

ARTHUR:
Who me?

FOOT WARRIOR:
Friend or foe!

ARTHUR:
Do I know you?

FOOT WARRIOR:
Answer! Friend or foe!

ARTHUR:
Well, without knowing you it’s hard to tell. I mean I quite like some people, others, not so much.

From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, episode 10, originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 23 Jan 1980, according to this site.

Edit:
In fact, I see this is almost exactly like the example of the usage given in the Slate article:

As in, I really admire Sontag’s essays. Her novels, not so much.

I claim an antedate, and a British example besides!

[ Edited: 28 June 2008 04:05 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 28 June 2008 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Well, without knowing you it’s hard to tell. I mean I quite like some people, others, not so much.

I don’t think that there’s any question that that is the usage in question.  Especially the “others, not so much” syntax.

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Posted: 28 June 2008 09:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Ha, touché, Doc, a hit, a palpable hit! I’m not aware of its use here but I may just be moving in the wrong circles.

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Posted: 29 June 2008 12:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Oecolampadius - 28 June 2008 06:07 AM

Dave has a nice discussion of slang and catchphrases in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: like:

going OJ? (going postal?)

It’s interesting to see how some of the BtVS slang has crept into the mainstream, even here in Rightpondia, such as “cringeworthy”, though I still don’t know what “going postal” means, or why.

One of my favourite catchphrases is “They would say that, wouldn’t they”, which I think was coined by Christine Keeler of Profumo Affair fame and appears to have achieved (well deserved?) longevity.  Mind you, I’m surprised it’s not older.

[ Edited: 29 June 2008 07:06 AM by bayard ]
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Posted: 29 June 2008 04:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Going postal (from OED)

U.S. colloq. [With reference to several recorded cases in which employees of the U.S. Postal Service have shot at their colleagues.] to go postal: to behave in a violent or frenzied manner, esp. as the result of stress; spec. to shoot at one’s colleagues, esp. randomly. Freq. in weakened sense: to get very angry, to fly into a rage.

1993 St. Petersburg (Florida) Times (Nexis) 17 Dec., The symposium was sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, which has seen so many outbursts that in some circles excessive stress is known as ‘going postal’.

[ Edited: 29 June 2008 04:05 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 29 June 2008 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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’At he end of the day’ is probably from half-witted British pundits commentating on soccer matches because I remember a quote in the Colemanballs column in Private Eye where someone said: ‘At the end of the day, it’s a game of two halves’ (or something like that). ‘On the day Liverpool can win, but on the day Liverpool can lose’, is another.
It is a very common sports cliche now only used by people who don’t realise it is one.

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Posted: 29 June 2008 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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My favorite “end of the day” quote was, “At the end of the day, you’ve got to get up in the morning.”

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Posted: 29 June 2008 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The OED, which is not usually so judgmental, describes “at the end of the day” as a “hackneyed phrase”, and gives the first citation from the 1974 book God and the Future by Biblical scholar Henry Keating.  Presumably it wasn’t so hackneyed at the time.

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Posted: 29 June 2008 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I don’t know that it is a sports cliche in origin, although that might be how it crossed the pond.

When someone begins a sentence with ‘at the end of the day’, they normally pause slightly before finishing. This gives you the chance to jump in with ‘...it gets dark’. This may have the effect that they not only fail to tell you what they were going to say but also cease from further attempts to engage you in conversation, which has to be a good thing.

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Posted: 30 June 2008 05:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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One of my favourite catchphrases is “They would say that, wouldn’t they”, which I think was coined by Christine Keeler of Profumo Affair fame

Surely “Well, he would, woudn’t he?” was said by Mandy Rice-Davies, not Keeler!

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Posted: 30 June 2008 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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That’s my recollection too.

While giving evidence at the trial of Stephen Ward, Rice-Davies made the quip for which she is most remembered and which is frequently used by politicians in Britain[2]. When the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied having an affair or having even met her, she replied, “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?”

Wikipedia

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Posted: 30 June 2008 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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"At the end of the day” certainly predates the 2000 U.S. presidential election, but I first remember becoming sick of the phrase during the period when the election outcome was being decided. Speakers on both sides spun out various possibilities, then ended their speculation with the phrase, “But at the end of the day, what really matters is [fill in your conclusion here].”

The phrase alternated with “the bottom line” for the most cringeworthy cliché of the time.

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