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What a cliché!

"There is some virus going around", "Good morning Elijah", and "It's not you, it's me" are just some of the worn clichés we use. Why do we need them? About clichés, proverbs and Israeliness

There are plenty of fish in the sea - no matter how you look at it
There are plenty of fish in the sea - no matter how you look at it

Sarit Sri | other life

Many times during my life I felt like a walking cliché: when I fell in love, when they fell in love with me, when I broke up, when they broke up with me, when I admired, when they admired me, when I laughed, when I laughed, when I cried, when I was hurt, when I was happy, when I was sad, when I got married, when I divorced, when I got excited, when I danced, when I comforted, when I was comforted, when they courted After and when I came back. But somehow in everything related to the areas of emotion and its expression, even if billions have done it before us, we will still feel primalness, not to mention (or rather) virginity and sometimes even exclusivity, like birth for example.

Did the use of clichés and colloquialisms actually start with the poorness and poorness of the language of our grandfathers? From our parents' inability to describe situations and feelings better? From their survival attempts when they immigrated to the Land of Israel and their strong desire to assimilate into society? What are the clichés for? What do they serve? Who are they coming to save? Because after all, all words of consolation and encouragement are gnawed away by weariness and discourage in advance.

I am intrigued if the original language of our parents had fewer clichés, or if the clichés joined their language (and ours) naturally following the translation of expressions from the mother tongue of each family. And the question of the questions: Are the clichés the cornerstones and pillars of our everyday language, which relies on translated goods from countless languages, which made it easier to acclimatize in the Land of Israel without abandoning their original language?

the language of speech

("Clichés don't die, they just change", Night Wisdom)
I have a feeling that even those who are well-advised to go down the paths of language and words occasionally need a good phrase or proverb even without a moral. Why is this happening to us? Maybe because after all "one bird in the hand is better" and "the end of the act is the first thought" and as we know "suckers don't die", because "no matter how you turn it around", "it's not you - it's me" etc. etc. etc. In short: influx and escape to the non-binding seller.

These are exactly the moments that I stop, take myself to a dense conversation and whisper in my ears: wait for a new message. Until then? Quiet. When this happens to me, I'm almost always embarrassed by the reliance on sources who don't always know anything. So an inner dialogue rich in style begins for me: what, couldn't you be a little more original? Has he run out of the private lexicon that you hang on to a chewed, used or messed up expression that everyone got out of all the holes?
I don't want to sound cliché and put the cart before the horse or be (God forbid) a donkey jumping in the head, but correct me if I'm wrong: who among us hasn't occasionally needed some excellent cliché to describe an experience we've had? Or what old phrase do we use to clarify ourselves while incorporating updated slang that will accurately explain our situation?

A place of honor

(You can't do it with her and you can't do it without her)
The cliché is alive, renewing itself and kicking strong (sometimes self-inflicted) exiles not only in the colloquial language. It exists in all fields of art: millions of painters in the universe have painted vases of flowers and naked women and we are still amazed by the precision and the color; Crowds of photographers photographed loving couples at sunset and sunrise or a bride and groom next to a wedding cake and still in tears during the ceremony; Many theater actors around the world have played the character of Hamlet and we still applaud a new interpretation; Several poets prevailed on love, and we still identify and cry with a poet or a young lyricist who described our feelings well.

Hundreds of mimes around the globe have sipped water from a glass that doesn't exist and still fine technique will do it for us; Several musicians have performed Beethoven's fifth symphony and each time we will be moved anew and amazed by a girl or a boy (geek, Yoram or Zalman - depending on the slang and the period) who perform it from the height of their youth.

Somehow, miraculously, it is still possible to be moved again and again even by statements that are considered banal. Otherwise, how do we explain the fact that the famous phrase "I love you" will never sound clichéd? So why did a cliché get such a negative image ("Ouch it's trite"), why does it have such bad PR ("stop talking in slogans") and why is it seen as something inferior?

Dosages seem to be the key. Some speak only in slogans and sentences that we heard from our grandparents, and there are those who rarely use a sentence that will renew something for someone - and then, I feel, he gets a place of honor. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with a cliché if it helps to accurately express an emotion ("I fell in love with someone breathtaking"), feelings ("When I saw him I felt butterflies"), contains good advice ("don't drink water after a watermelon") or a thought ("I did to myself think"). The problem begins if a cliché is used as an escape from something more reasoned, experiential and deeper.

Who decides when a good sentence becomes a cliché? When is it declared as such? Is every sentence, proverb or saying that we have heard at least three times from different sources immediately labeled in our head as a cliché? And the question of the questions: are there positive clichés? Are "a billion Chinese not wrong", and is it really "the Jewish head inventing patents for us"?

Personally, I like people with sensitive sensors, with self-awareness and sensitivity to language, who tend to open their words with a welcome reservation along the lines of "I know I sound like a cliché, but" or "that it won't sound clichéd" and at least give a sense of alertness to the phenomenon.

A cliché as a sought-after commodity

(You took the words out of my mouth)
So many clichéd thoughts and words ran through my head trying to explain to myself what the definition of a cliché is beyond being just used merchandise. Is it really necessary to conduct a proper dialogue? And above all, why do we need it so much and in such high doses in our daily dialogue? All these "just in case I prepared in advance" sentences, which were collected and added to the language, were originally created for positive reasons - to teach, to warn, to instruct, to clarify, to excite, to inform, to be precise, to share an experience, to create identification.

And perhaps it is inevitable to think that at the same time as the increased use, their unclear necessity and their dubious importance, sometimes the clichés were also created in order to make a speech (instead of having a dialogue), to prove knowledge in XNUMX shekels ("Good morning Eliyahu"), to feel like partners in the conversation ("There is some virus going around"), to avoid From professional conflicts ("let me sleep on it for the night") or romantic ("we need to talk" mythological) or just for the purpose of rejecting the other ("talk to me on Sunday - not the next one, the one after"), to condescend to others as if "there is no tomorrow" (Each department "I said" or "I warned").

In other words, it is possible that within the world of Israeli clichés, the Pan Tehir, is hidden the kingdom of the Jewish-Israeli subtext for generations: to escape to the supposedly safe places for us, so much so that we chew and season our words with old materials that give the feeling, taste and sound of something heated in a microwave whose clock has stopped. And yet (absurdly), clichés seem to be like air and will always be with us as long as we breathe. Luckily we are not required to pay for "air time" for them.

from their life experience

"Only in the silence does the cliché disappear." (ancient cynical sage)
I do not eliminate the possibility that originally every cliché was an innocent and pure truth of life and was born due to the life experience of those who thought it, but what happened to it over the years is another matter. Quite a few times she calls out parental cautionary phrases that are not unnecessary ("when you have children, understand") or absolutely unnecessary ("be careful, you'll end up missing the train" - for the single women among us), but of course there are situations where its use is simply funny or embarrassing, and it's all in my ears the observer

Some examples of clichés that go out of context and contribute nothing:

  • "There are many fish in the sea" - a classic comforting phrase that was once said to a girl during a breakup, and how exactly will an image from the world of fishing help her right now?
  • "You are like old, old wine" - a tactless sentence for a 50-year-old woman on her birthday.
  • "The people have spoken" - said by a politician, usually after "an entire public stands behind me" or "people turn to me in the street".
  • "The ball is round" - in the words of sportsmen, as if we thought it was a rhombus.
  • "I didn't bother you, so don't bother me" - the thread in every televised discussion of two or more participants.
  • "The future of our children" - on election days and independence celebrations.
  • Distorted proverbs like "does days as nights" - instead of the other way around, because that's how the person sleeps all day.

The cliché has become pathetic

The obvious conclusion is that we probably cannot pass an entire life without occasionally using clichés, phrases or proverbs, which surround our lives and cling to us like a worried and obsessive parent.

They usually appear in the form of familiar words in a predetermined combination ("So we tentatively set at nine?"), which are combined into familiar sentences ("Just to clear the ear") and are sometimes said in a worryingly nonchalant manner ("With all due respect"), such as deja- A long and persistent hook ("And don't take me personally"), as if we were told this already ("We'll get to the bridge and then cross it"), they proved us ("Every coin has two sides"), slapped or scolded us ("Don't jump over the navel "), they slowed us down ("We'll kill a turkey and rest" and "Fra-Fra") or we ourselves said it ("as it is said"), or we've heard these sounds before ("Tachal's"), this intonation and these familiar words So much ("If I may be allowed").

It is enough to hear or utter the classic parting words "it's not you, it's me" at the age of 18, but to bother with this sentence and similar ones at the age of 30 to 40 plus is no longer a cliché, but pathetic.

In praise of the cliché

("Thoughts about the future give me déjà vu." Ancient cynical sage)
My private conclusions regarding the increased use of clichés ("don't say later that I didn't say") are directly related to our internal and external attention and the assumptions we make to ourselves. If we are aware of the dosages and cultivate the awareness and vigilance of the language of speech, and of course we refine the self-humor due to the excessive use of ready-made materials, we will find that the clichés are even comforting.

If we just admit to ourselves that this is a type of "consensual self-deception" and temporary mental laziness. Sometimes, due to mild to moderate attention and/or concentration problems, our mind needs and is required to take a mental rest and in a legitimate way it escapes to the simple, to the ready and to the known, to the worlds of the common language or to the "super delusional" slang, and they are actually used as a link section ( sometimes blessed) to the next matter. Yes, there is an explicit invitation here to continue using them, but in a lower dose, please.

All that is left for us is to remember that every ready-made text is battered by too much use that is said to us or by us, and every cliché, no matter how worn out, is "on the way" an excellent method to avoid saying something real, personal or revealing, or something we are not interested in sharing or developing. Let's just remind ourselves that our lives are full of subtext anyway, even when we don't speak in clichés. There is a need for caution, just like the classic Israeli question-answer in a random street meeting with a distant friend, who is interested in our well-being but expects only a positive answer and says in one breath: "How-are-things-everything-good?", or like correcting gossip seconds after the defamation: But she's got a head on her shoulders" and "he's actually a good guy, poor guy".

In other words, the cliché is also an excellent marketing gloss to close discussions that we didn't want to get into in the first place (the queen of generalizations: "Yes, everyone is sick now, it's a transition season"), and it's the easy way to say nothing and yet make a sound ("Donkeys don't show half the work" Under the auspices of the association "Here I said something anyway"), and of course an excellent avoidance of not sharing our true feelings ("Leave it, it's not on the phone"). They will answer (or "all's") - hearing a voice and not an opinion. Therefore, it is worthwhile to use the clichés in a private-positive way only and in tiny doses, for example when they come as a lifeline and emerge while the brain is resting from producing something new.

A world without clichés?

"Summaries will be done at the end of the season." (Sports channel starts)
It is impossible to imagine the world of sports (in general) and football (in particular) without all the clichés and phrases of glorious past broadcasters such as the well-known "That's how you don't build a wall". There is no chance of understanding Israeli-Jewish parenting without some good clichés packed along the way from our parents' house - "Go to your room and think carefully about how you behaved", "And if all the children jump off the roof, will you jump too?", and the cliché question: "And if grandma had wheels? ". And there are more and more rhetorical questions that have remained unanswered throughout the generations, embracing testimony, transcending the obvious and creating within Hebrew a connection, belonging and connection to nation and language. It turns out that this familiar substance brings hearts and ears together without differences of religion, race and age. The voice of the Jewish people living in Zion.

If the cliché disappears from our lives, a very popular profession in recent years will also be erased with it - "communication consultants" also known as "strategists". These are people who raised the use of clichés to the level of an art (with all the scoops, spins and ponytails and sarpan), and all the publicists, journalists and media people with the culture of exaggerations, exaggerations and generalizations ("An entire country holds its breath", "Sara Netanyahu in a special interview", "Shimon Peres As you did not know" or "Bibi in slippers").

And what would all the politicians do without the cliché, who elaborate on the symbols at the heart of the consensus. And once again beautiful words will be heard in the streets of Jerusalem washed in the water of calumny, optimistic, patriotic words but without cover - about Jerusalem our eternal capital (election eve only), about education as the future and the future in education. And many more clichés about economic stability and a stable economy, about the reform in education and the reformed education, about prosperity and flourishing, about the eternal spirit of the people of Israel in the Land of Israel, about the capital of Israel and the flag of Israel. And don't forget the clichés about the weather (who said "light to moderate wind" and didn't get it?) and always remember that there are stove lighters only in the north, and the barometric outlet from Turkey always moves to our area and never stands above us.

To sum up positively: on the one hand, a cliché is actually a fine way to fill airtime with nothing; to talk idle talk at length. On the other hand, this also has a place because you don't have to be busy all the time and sometimes the bland is unbearably sweet (from the book "Who Moved My Cliché").

The author is a comedian, actress, voiceover and writer (the book "Be in touch, a book for Israelis only" published by Am Oved, and a second book "Dash Beit" will be published soon)

9 תגובות

  1. Fascinating article and explanation. It is good to read about clichés in preparation for the XNUMXth chapter. Free hate - another cliché born with a partner - free love.

  2. The Israeli clichés are much worse and angrier than the examples you gave.

    "Everything is from above", "What needs to happen will happen", "Everyone gets what they deserve"

    Clichés of this kind are not only embarrassing and wretched, but also cause magnificent damage to the human spirit and justify all evil and cruelty.
    As if there is no point in acting and fighting for change.

  3. Excellent article.

    I definitely understand the thing about the clichés.
    Even in me, from time to time, a philosophical question arises that deals with the obvious (cliché).
    I believe that an important part of the formation of the cliché is the "added value" that the words received, as a whole greater than the sum of its parts. This "added value" conveys a feeling and also creates imagination in the vocabulary, which brings people closer together and strengthens the sense of identification.

  4. Just great!
    Made me think about all language and everyday speech
    And everything is true
    We fill our conversations with a lot of useless information to shorten the conversation and make it more pleasant to the ear
    : )

  5. The cliché is the last refuge of the fool. And no, it is not "the voice of the Jewish people sitting in Zion", but the voice of the journalist who must fulfill a word quota even if he has nothing to say. And what is "unbearably sweet" usually ends in calcification of arteries.

  6. A somewhat clichéd and ridiculous article
    "In other words, it is possible that within the world of Israeli clichés, no matter what, the kingdom of the Jewish-Israeli subtext is hidden for generations" = a typical Plessani sentence

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