In today’s Daily Prompt Michelle said: Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread! What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?’
To me, there’s only one answer. This post which you are now reading called:
Cutting the Best Thing out the Sliced Bread Cliché
Whoever inventing the saying ‘best thing since sliced bread’ may be sadly watching for the slow descent of their phrase. He or she shouldn’t be sad for where else can the phrase go after rising to the peak status of cliché. Plateauing is the next stage or descent.
I believe the sliced bread saying is on the plateau, held back from a descent mainly by pre-college writers and a few other people. In secondary school days, my friends and I liked clichés, we thought they were cool. We felt like blooming literary giants using them.
Once all 25 of my fifth-form classmates wrote the words, greatest thing since sliced bread – in an essay called ‘A day in the life of a washing machine”. Our English teacher upbraided us but now I think she should’ve been ashamed for setting us that cliché-type assignment.
Since then, I have read or heard many college professors, experts and writers bash clichés. On the internet, many articles discouraging cliché use. Here is a sampling.
They are “dull and unimaginative for the reader or listener.”
“Clichés are dishonest. Clichés rob the reader of a true reading experience. It’s a Big Mac instead of filet mignon. It’s all gristle, no meat.”
“What was once a clever or interesting way of saying something has been used so much that it no longer has any force. It is a lazy way to speak and to write. Please, please take pity on those who read your text or listen to you speak, and do not use clichés,” http://englishmistakeswelcome.com/cliches.htm screams at us.
So we try to avoid the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ and his friends. But as Review Review explains, “Sometimes it’s hard to spot a cliché. How about, “She burst into tears.” Is this a cliché? That’s a tough call.”
Like chameleons, these sneaky fellows slip into our writing, especially when we are being descriptive. Now, hunters are on the attack. Websites like University of Richmond’s Writing Center enter the picture armed with tools for cliché DNA testing and expulsion.
“When writing, question any comparison or image you are about to use,” advises the University of Richmond. “Is the phrase you’re about to use one that you’ve heard frequently in casual conversation, newscasts, and advertising? If so, it is probably a cliché or on its way there.”
Some experienced in writing have made the cliché hunt easier by providing lists.
A few people are still on the cliché-side, though. The Review Review sees a place for them. “Normal people talk in clichés. Your characters probably talk in clichés. That’s, well, normal,’ it said.
“Clichés in internal monologue are okay too, but don’t overdo it.
Writer Dell Smith says: “I use “clichés as placeholders when I write a first or second draft. While tapping the emotion of the moment I may not know the perfect words to use. Later, I’ll come back with more objective eyes and manhandle these words down to their core meaning.”
A reprieve for my slice bread friend?
Maybe not, it has another problem. It contains bread. Nutritionists have people considering whether factory bread slicing can fall under the ‘best thing’ category. Slicing white bread? If this bread is not the best thing for healthy living then factory slicing which increases its convenience may not be good. Oh dear! My slice bread friend is between a rock and a hard place (gotcha).
Not all bread types are health risks, among those favoured are 100 per cent whole grain, rye, pumpernickel and cassava bread. In addition, eating a uniform portion, such as a factory-cut slice, is better than having to hand slice resulting in a large chunk on your plate. Factory slicing may therefore be helpful and with healthy bread, better, so we have preserved some of the value of the sliced bread and keep that cliché on the plateau. If fact, we may be able to say without causing raised eyebrows that this article is the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ that the writer was ‘thinking outside the box”. Ha ha!!
What do you think?
Let us now praise… the cliché (boston.com)