These things have been driving me crazy ever since this language was first foisted upon me. I’ve always disliked expressions because they short circuit the process of communication. Of course, language itself does this to some extent – we have to fit our feelings and thoughts into existing words and phrases. But expressions further increase the margin of error in conveying intended meaning. Here are some of the worst:
“More than welcome”
“Welcome” is a spectrum, from barely welcome to extremely welcome. But, how can you be more than welcome? You can’t – you’re either welcome or not welcome. If there is a state of being that surpasses “welcome” then it needs its own word.
“You zigged before you zagged”
This allegedly means that you did things in the wrong order. Yet the phrase “zig-zag,” from which this originates, has zig before zag. So it makes no sense.
“Up the creek without a paddle”
This supposedly means you are in a bad situation that will be difficult to navigate out of. However, if you were up the creek, the current would carry you down to where you may want to be. The expression should be, down the creek without a paddle, since it would be hard to come back up the creek, against the current, without means of propulsion.
“Drink the Kool Aide”
This one is just offensive. It’s a reference to the Jonestown massacre. Now, when people talk about any trendy, new or strange idea, they mention “drinking the Kool Aid.” You might as well make gas chambers into a light hearted cliche about institutionalized living. The problem with all of these expressions is that people use them as an easy way out of thinking.
“I could care less”
This is a bastardization of, “I couldn’t care less,” which actually makes sense. Yet, people continue to use the nonsensical version. It is the way of language, I suppose: after numerous iterations and alterations people say things they’ve heard without stopping to think if they have any meaning.
“Blow up the balloon”
We should inflate balloons, not blow them up. Blowing up a balloon is what happens when you over inflate it.
“The alarm went off”
When the alarm goes on, it is not going off. It goes off when you turn it off.
“The time is now!”
People sometimes chant this or hold up signs that say this at rallies. Come on. The time is always now.
“No justice no peace!”
It may make good poetry, but any chant that has to be explained should be reconsidered.
“Sleep like a log”
Logs don’t sleep, so how could this mean anything? You might as well say, “I slept like a toothbrush.”
“Head over heals in love.”
Shouldn’t your head be over your heals on a regular basis? If you mean to say that you are unbalanced or awkwardly positioned because you are in love, I would say, “heels over head.”
As I continue to live in human society, I find that expressions creep into my own vocabulary. I know when I use them that I am being lazy, and I cringe on the inside each time. I guess I just live in a fool’s paradise, whatever that means.