Hel-lo-oh? Tired of the same old same old? Maybe it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe it’s time for a wake-up call. Or maybe a reality check? Duuuh. Boooring. Are we on the same page? Are we having fun yet? Are you having a midlife crisis? A bad hair day? A senior moment? Maybe it’s a guy thing. This isn’t rocket science, it isn’t brain surgery, it’s a no-brainer!
Have you noticed how certain words and phrases creep into our everyday lives? Fortunately, much of this language makes a quick appearance on the pop culture stage and exits just as quickly, ending up in the archives of long-lost lingo. Much fad-talk, like fad-trends, eventually goes the way of poodle skirts, pet rocks, slinkies, smurfs, streaking, and super balls. In the meantime, as long as language is alive, you can expect to hear, use, and lose these clichés – some of which will even make it into the dictionary.
“Fad-talk” emerges from different sources. Many such phrases in use over the last 30 or 40 years found their roots in television, movies, and pop culture. “Go ahead, punk, make my day,” snarled Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in Sudden Impact (1983), inspiring versions of tough-guy talk that not only made it into daily conversation but was also recycled on T-shirts and coffee mugs and was even appropriated by President Ronald Reagan in his 1985 speech when he threatened to veto a proposed tax increase. And who could forget Governor Schwarzenegger as the Terminator in 1984, with his foreboding, “I’ll be back.” How many of you recall that it was Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver (1976), who queried, “You talkin’ to me?”?
On the lighter side – though many pre-baby boomers may not recognize these phrases that popped up in the sixties and seventies – we had Agent Maxwell Smart (Get Smart) and “would you believe ….” or (from Laugh-In's Judy Carne and Arte Johnson) “sock it to me” and “verrry interesting.” “Meathead” and “stifle it” are still around, perpetuating the memory of Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker in All in the Family. In 1992, Fox premiered the sitcom, Martin, which many credit for phrases like "you go, girl” (righteous encouragement for the fairer sex and a celebration of women in general), and "don't go there” (word of caution, warning the speaker to say no more), and "whassup” (the equivalent of a verbal high-five). Of course, “whassup” (also “whaazzaaah”) earned fresh recognition in a series of Budweiser TV commercials, the first of which aired to great acclaim during the 2000 Super Bowl.
Seinfeld, the popular show about nothing, gave us something to talk about and a way to talk about it using just one, two-syllable word. In Episode 152 (“The Yada Yada”), which aired in April 1997, George figures out that his girlfriend, Marcy, might be leaving out significant details with her overuse of the phrase, “yada yada.” George and Marcy are discussing old flames when Marcy tells George, “Speaking of ex's, my old boyfriend came over late last night, and, yada yada yada. Anyway I'm really tired today.” George spews with frustration later in the dialogue, “All right, enough! Enough! From now on, no more yada yada’s. Just give me the full story.” Sometimes the full story is better told with a little yada yada, leaving more to the listener’s imagination.
“Bada bing” (also “bada bing bada boom), the catchphrase made famous by the hit HBO series, The Sopranos, earned its place in the Oxford Dictionary of English in 2003. But what, exactly, does “bada bing” mean? According to the ODE, bada bing is an exclamation used to emphasize that something will happen effortlessly and predictably. The ODE notes that its origin probably involves an imitation of the sound of a drum roll.
On the wall of a Mafia tomb
Is inscribed Bada-bing-bada-boom.
It's a phrase (like percussion)
for ending discussion --
Symbolically meant, I assume.
Limerick by Chuck Folkers (2005). From OEDILF (the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form)
An absolutely, totally, awesome limerick, don’t you agree?
Wrong. The Grand Canyon is awesome; that Chopin composed his Polonaises in G
minor and B flat major when he was just seven years old is awesome; the
On the other end of the spectrum of hackneyed language are the creations by pundits, politicians, and the corporate culture, who are working 24/7, pushing the envelope, and thinking outside of the box, just so we can all understand the bottom line. The suits may believe they can talk the talk, and the usual suspects may think they’re the go-to guys when it comes to the foreseeable future and the uncharted waters of expression. But, that being said, while these talking heads are growing their business, I’ll be growing tomatoes and trying to weed out the clichés from my conversations.
So everyone, get a life, or better yet, get a vocabulary. Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about. And oh, yeah, have a nice day.
Helpful Tip Occasional fad talk in casual conversation is okay—and even sometimes
unavoidable, but when speaking and writing in a professional or formal
situation, avoid using clichés. Do pepper your dialogue with colorful and
descriptive language; be aware of what you’re saying and the words you’re
using; and make a conscious effort to steer clear of worn‑out, overused words
Occasional fad talk in casual conversation is okay—and even sometimes unavoidable, but when speaking and writing in a professional or formal situation, avoid using clichés. Do pepper your dialogue with colorful and descriptive language; be aware of what you’re saying and the words you’re using; and make a conscious effort to steer clear of worn‑out, overused words and phrases.