It was "any time soon" that pushed me over the edge. No. No time soon. Or ever. Just get rid of it. It is not a different way of saying "soon", just a longer one. That was when I posted on The Independent's blog, saying that the phrase "has been added to the list of Prohibited Clichés. By order".
It was a passing remark, about a BBC television report about when British troops might return from Afghanistan, but it prompted enough comments for me to return to the subject and outlaw other verbiage. There was no list of Prohibited Clichés when I started, but within days the Banned List had become an established theme on the blog. Each time I returned to it, readers added their own suggestions of jargon, vogue words and over-used phrases that annoyed them. It turns out that pedantry is popular. ... The internet is not destroying the language after all, then, but giving us new ways of shaming its most prominent practitioners into using it better. Let us set politicians a quiz. What are guarantees always made from? Cast iron. And with what are their bottoms made? Copper. And what are they not worth? The paper they are written on. (Or, alternatively, the paper that they are not written on.) For whom do politicians speak? The silent majority. Or hard-working families. Especially the ones who work hard and play by the rules.
Well, it turns out that the silent majority want to read and hear fresh, clear and original language. So go to independent.co.uk/bannedlist and nominate your suggestions for inclusion. I'd say we should crowd-source this project, but I've put crowd-source and project on the Banned List.
Rentoul's banned list
1. Going forward.
2. Key, adjective. Esp. 'keynote speech'.
3. End of.
6. In any way, shape or form.
7. Action as a verb.
8. Quantum leap, except to mean a change of state of an electron.
10. A no-brainer.
11. Does what it says on the tin.
12. Any journey not describing travel from A to B.
13. What's not to like?
14. Beginning an article with "So".
15. It's in his/her/their DNA.
16. Daily basis.
17. Agenda, except to describe a list of things to be discussed in a meeting.
18. Psychodrama (to describe any tense political relationship).