The Glottal Stop

A Vilification of the Cliché

Posted in Opinion, Politics, Writing by admin on August 19, 2010

Throughout May, there was much discontent demonstrated by the electorate towards politicians. A good portion of this was a reflection of the public’s disappointment in policies that the main party leaders were proposing and disillusionment over their constant attempts at undermining each other, rather than developing and portraying their own merits. Another portion of this discontent was in the way that Brown, Cameron and Clegg all sounded exactly alike in their use of uninspired, meaningless political language. Speeches were cliché ridden, uncreative and hackneyed. The main party leaders were constantly resorting to some overused sound-bite or party slogan – ‘biggest fight’, ‘A future fair for all’, ‘change that works for you’ and ‘vote for change’. The whole event was frankly banal. The voters couldn’t even bring themselves to assign a majority to one of the parties.

Just as with politicians, writers should heed warnings about the use of clichés – particularly the most threadbare – lest they should incur the censure of their reader and ultimately begin to lose their audience.

We are all aware of clichés within our speech and our writing. To use a cliché here and there to help with the flow of a quick utterance, or to quickly convey a slightly more elaborate meaning within informal speech, is perfectly acceptable. However, we all know those writers, publications, or even acquaintances where the use of the ‘odd’ cliché is far too commonplace – this is where clichés start to grate:

To use too many clichés is, at the end of the day, after all things considered, worthy of a chorus of disapproval. But it may be down to a chapter of accidents that they exist; circumstances beyond control – but each to their own. Personally they make me sick as a parrot. Writers who use them should turn over a new-leaf; but then again, you can’t teach and old dog new tricks.

See what I mean? The overuse of clichés resulting in the defilement of your writings is just as criminal as continually using a flurry of exclamation marks where they just aren’t warranted.

Most clichés begin life as someone’s witty phrase for expressing or emphasising a thought. Though, clichés that are intelligent are often adopted and repeated by many. Multiply their use by a million, and you have the overused, tired husks of someone’s originality.

To overuse clichés is to have a complete disregard for the quality of your work; you are effectively writing something without meaning. When a reader sees a cliché they skim over it; they have seen it a million times before and it means the same thing as it always has to them. It is not your writing, it is not your creation; it is just a space-filler. Why use a cliché and give up the perfect opportunity to use a well placed and highly apt adjective or a beautifully crafted metaphor or simile?

No matter how hard you try, no cliché will be able to convey the feelings you are trying to portray. Often, the poverty of words can make describing an abstract emotion difficult; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If you take the time to meticulously construct a sentence you can invoke, within the reader, the valuable connotations and associations that exist within language – your writing will seem all the better for it.

 

Alexander. B

A Case for Divorce

Posted in General, Opinion by admin on August 3, 2010

It has always seemed that – aside from the perishable nature of love and conflict arising from domesticities, both the trivial and the grace – the two quite influential factors in escalating global divorce rates (particularly in the UK and America) are that of the economic hold over the individual (i.e. commitments to careers and a desire for job security which almost necessarily holds a sort of precedence over marriage), and that of Hollywood.

My latter reason, I believe, is not as completely barmy as it might at first seem.

Take these statistics:

# 1 United States: 4.95 per 1,000 people
# 2 Puerto Rico: 4.47 per 1,000 people
# 3 Russia: 3.36 per 1,000 people
# 4 United Kingdom: 3.08 per 1,000 people
# 5 Denmark: 2.81 per 1,000 people
# 6 New Zealand: 2.63 per 1,000 people
# 7 Australia: 2.52 per 1,000 people
# 8 Canada: 2.46 per 1,000 people
# 9 Finland: 1.85 per 1,000 people
# 10 Barbados: 1.21 per 1,000 people

These are the top ten countries for rates of divorce throughout the world (Divorce rate per 1,000 people). Sourced from divorceform.com and recorded in 2004 (admittedly a little outdated, but still relevant to this article).

The country with the highest divorce rate (the highest number of divorces per 1000 people) is the USA; not only the home of Hollywood, but along with Canada, the country with the highest consumer expenditure on going to the movies (see graph). In fourth is the United Kingdom; a close ally of the USA and heavily influenced by American culture. In eighth is Canada; America’s Northern neighbours, as well as sharing its ‘top cinema spending’ spot. Three other countries within the list have English as their official national language (Australia, New Zealand, Barbados) and thus lack a language barrier to Hollywood’s cinematic allure.

Of course, there are many other factors to consider here. Russia has it problems with alcoholism which are sure to account for such a high divorce rate. In Finland, an increasingly secularized view of marriage that saw it as an arrangement that could be ended if it did not satisfy its partners has often been cited for top ten position. However, a more interesting reason raised is that Finland’s gradually expanding welfare system could manage an ever greater portion of the family’s traditional tasks, and it made couples less dependent on the institution of marriage.

Undoubtedly the rights of women have had a large part to play in divorce statistics, particularly where their status in society is determined by a prevalence of religion and cultural tradition. For example: in many countries a huge stigma is attached to a woman if she divorces. Worse so are those cultures where there is not even a capacity for women to seek a divorce, where marriage is little more than female objectification.

In their favour, the above tabled countries are places where – of which the majority are deeply feminised – divorce is usually easily granted, and it is not seen as a stigma upon women if she is a divorcé. Unfortunately, this has lead many idiots of the online community to conclude that feminism is bad for marriage (where to begin with this fallacious notion?).

Anyway, back to the Hollywood theory.

Robert Pattison

Robert Pattison

With Hollywood comes the idealised romance, the wet dialogue, and misleading simplification of emotion. Millions have grown attached, through Hollywood, to the idea of marrying a man of Brad Pitt qualities and living the happy-ever-after life. Millions of teenagers are right now dreaming of the day they find their very own Robert Pattison. But of course, the reality of Love and relationships is oh-so very different.

An outlandish theory? Well, apparently not:

Recent findings by researchers at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh) have shown romantic comedies, such as Notting Hill, promote unrealistic expectations of love; resulting in an almost detrimental effect upon relationships.  And not long ago, a poll in Australia found that people felt the most dissatisfied about their partners after watching romantic comedies.

Food for thought.

Fitzboodle.

England’s ‘but we invented it’ Fallacy of Football Defeat.

Posted in General, Humour, Opinion by admin on July 7, 2010

Alexander. B

Once again we have entered a major football tournament clutching our hopes and dreams of success on the international stage to our chests, only to find ourselves, in the event, clutching at straws. Every time we enter a competition it is with our heads held high and with our ambitions plastered across the national newspapers. Then we come crawling out of it like some lame animal after some miserable defeat. Then the grumble across the lips of the nation is “and from the country that invented it”.

But we did not invent it! What sort of a remark is that?

(more…)

Those Dangerous Anarchists, Begging to be Beaten

Posted in Debate, From across the pond, News, Opinion, Politics by admin on June 24, 2010

Gordon Katic
Vancouver

Whenever there is a controversial event sure to garner large (and possibly violent) protests, I wait eagerly like a child on Christmas Eve. Mimicking the igneous method employed by Bart Simpson to reach his Christmas presents at the earliest possible hour, I drink enough water to insure that I awake to meet the inky-fingered paperboy as he saunters to my doorstep with the package that I so eagerly wish to uncoil. I flip through  the pages anxiously in search of titillating accounts of windows smashed and innocents saved (or the more common inverse–windows saved, innocents smashed). Upon hastily skimming through stories of vandalism and violence, I become infuriated at the nefarious hoodlums who would dare disrespect my fine country and rouse the rabble that occupies it. I then faithfully flip to the the back in search of strongly-worded condemnations populating the editorial and opinion section of my trustworthy newspaper. I intently read the penetrating analysis made by revered pundits, invariably offering stern admonishments to troublemakers and troubles made. These petty criminals offer no coherent political viewpoints, I am told; a rag-tag group of attention-seeking vandals worthy of nothing better than pity, with a dollop of derision and a dash of condescension. (more…)

New Debate: The Proportional Representation electoral system would be detrimental to democracy and representation in Britain.

Posted in Debate, Opinion, Politics by admin on June 7, 2010

Our fornightly topic of debate has just been updated.
theGlottal Stop invites you discuss and debate the following point of opinion; ’The PR electoral system would be detrimental to democracy and representation in Britain’. A particularly relevant topic given the recent challenges and changes that we, here in Britain, saw resulting from the May 2010 general election.

Please go to https://theglottalstop.wordpress.com/debate/ and use the comment box to carry on the debate.

We look forward to hearing from you…

iFlop?

Posted in Books, Humour, Opinion, Technology by admin on May 29, 2010

I feel I have accidentally been swept along by the wave of furore that has accompanied the release of the iPad and other e-readers.

I remember reading an article a couple of years (or so) ago about the coming of the e-readers, the new age in book reading that we were to find ourselves in. These highly portable, highly practical, and highly innovative devices – and highly expensive – would be a must have. Gone would be those cumbersome books that decay and become tattered. Here was a device that would allow us to keep all our books in the same place and read them whenever we found the urge, no matter where we were

A year on and I came across the Sony Reader and I have to say I was a little disappointed. Not that the device did not offer what was promised, it did just that; there was the portability, the practicality, the innovation, and the price tag. There was even a small spark of excitement when the screen lit up to reveal the ‘e-ink’ format. However, I couldn’t help but notice a void, something missing. Where was the emotion? Where was the emotion and sentiment that I feel when reading a good book?

I, like most others, find some strange pleasure in the smell of books, both old and new. Along with that there’s something satisfying about taking a side-long glace at a book and seeing how much you have read in a session. I enjoy the weight of a book; perhaps I can equate that to the knowledge I am to gain; call it a quantitative measurement of the time that the author dedicated to it, if you will. There’s also all the things you can tell about a person from their books. Jottings in the margins, dog-eared books, books that have remained in pristine condition for all their lives – they all say something about past owners. And this raises another point entirely, that is, who in their right mind would be willing to lend their Ipad to someone in the same manner that you would lend someone a good-book?

Let us not forget also the joy of bookshops themselves! With the rise of e-readers and online ebook stores we would surely see the everyday bookstore disappear from our high streets. I personally must spend hours on end in bookshops browsing through the miles and miles of titles on offer, admiring the eclectic mix of cover artwork available for my eyes to feast upon. Bookshops provide a refuge from the bustle of everyday life, a place to find inspiration and to kick-start the creative juices, or at the very least a way to pass the time during a sudden downpour of rain.

So no, the rise of the e-reader was a phenomenon that I thought would not catch on, or more honestly, a phenomenon I was hoping would not catch on. I didn’t want to see the real thing taken away from me and from all those many millions that share my love of books and bookshops.

But, something changed. And this change was the announcement and release of the iPad. Ashamedly, from what I have seen of it I can’t help but feel a little drawn to its aurora. It has everything that is to be promised in an e-reader (though there are of course the countless other functions and apps), the practicality, the portability, the innovation (something that apple has always excelled in) and, sweet heavens, the price-tag.
But it has achieved more, much more, than I had come to expect from an e-reader. Put simply, it has given the e- reader ‘emotion’. It is not the dull device that I found to be the Sony Reader – it has a wow factor to it. You can’t help but be drawn in, just as humans are drawn to anything that possess a certain ‘beauty’.
There are gasps of ‘ohh’ and ’ahh’ at the swish of the pages as you delicately turn them with your finger tips. There’s the satisfying swivel of the text when you rotate the device. The colours are vivid and bright, they dazzle (something that apple has highlighted with the inclusion of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ free with the device). And the feeling of an iPad in your hands, though not the same as a book, is just as pleasurable in other ways. It’s crisp and it’s light, but it also has a solid, sturdy feel about it. It has quite simply blown the tech-world away, just as most Apple creations do.

But there’s one thing that it won’t ever give you; the ability to brag. Yes, you may win a few fans by flashing your iPad at work or on the train, but what can be more fulfilling than having all the books you’ve ever read shelved and on display in your home. Think of the gains in esteem you’ll achieve as your parents-in-law eye that ‘War and Peace’ sitting on the shelf in your lounge (no matter if you’ve read it or not, chances are they haven’t). A beautifully bound collection of Dickens books are sure to provide an air of ‘Je ne sais quoi’ to your living room. And in the eyes of any guest, that complete works of Shakespeare will make you the master of the English Language that you deserve to be.
But truthfully, there’s nothing wrong or arrogant about looking at the shelves of books you have read and thinking ‘’I have tackled that. That is the weight of my knowledge”.

And it is because of this that I sincerely hope it is books, and not e-readers, that continue to remain the most superior and most sought-after medium for reading.

Long live the book!

The Best of Friends

Posted in Opinion, Politics by admin on May 27, 2010

Since its conception I cannot but help find something strange about the relationship on display between the Prime Minster and Deputy Prime Minister.
Since overcoming their differences – and forging their new love in the Number 10 rose garden – it seems that Cameron has allowed Clegg to take on an unexpected role, i.e. a prominent one.
Cameron’s conciliatory acts towards Clegg were always to be expected, but a sort of wet, over-zealous, corny comradery has developed on the part of the two men, and frankly it is has started to become unbearable.

The press conference within the rose garden of number ten could only have been completed by a holding of hands, and Clegg’s jaunt down Downing Street to be greeted by Cameron at the door of number ten (apparently budget cuts have run so deep that the PM must open the door himself) as though to welcome him to his tea party was unnecessary and actually quite nauseating. It’s as though Clegg specified this as a condition to the coalition, “and I want a nice picture outside number 10”. More of this odd behaviour was to be seen as the two love birds left Downing Street together and made their way to parliament on foot for the Queen’s speech.

It’s not the coalition itself I have trouble with, in fact I think the two parties bring a number of excellent policies and initiatives to the table (which of course is one of the great things about coalition-governments). But I cannot for the life of me understand why the two party leaders feel they must feign this ‘best of friends’ routine. Do they expect us to believe it? Do they really expect us to believe that two parties with such ideological differences can obtain such cohesion; well we need only look to the back benches of each party to see that they cannot, and one feels that no amount of repeating the words ‘Change’ and ‘New’ over and over again, until they become worn out cliches, will disguise this fact. And was it not only a few weeks ago that they were throwing insults at each other? The particular favourite being Cameron’s calling Nick Clegg the ‘best joke’ he knew.

One expects that where you have a system of politics built on adversary (particularly on the run-up to elections) there is always going to be red-faces of embarrassment after any election that results in the need for a coalition, perhaps even a little grovelling. In the back rooms of ten downing street, amongst the inner circles, does Mr Clegg really hold as much prominence as this public facade would depict? And if so, that leaves us wondering; who is really running the show?

Tagged with: , ,