TIRED of the political robocalls, the mudslinging, the talking heads toting up House and Senate seats? That's all behind us now — for a day or two. Unfortunately we're still saddled with tired phrases from a source that's a little too close for comfort. We're talking about the print media of which we're a part. Just when you thought Google had exposed writers to maximum scrutiny, an outfit called Factiva has begun documenting the overuse of certain terms. Leading the list for September, according to Factiva's analysis of more than 1,450 media outlets, was the word "ongoing." It appeared nearly 14,000 times that month. Usage of "ongoing" was going on in The Oklahoman 59 times in September, including twice in a short letter to the editor. Popular but worn-out phrases are referred to as "dimwitticisms" by author Robert Fiske. He says they "dull our reason and dim our insight" and that we use them "when we are too lazy to express what we think or even to discover how we feel." He said a mouthful there, folks! We feel like we've been rode hard and put up wet. Runner-up for the dimwitticism of the month was "in terms of," appearing 9,071 times. Third was "basically" (6,824, including 42 times in The Oklahoman — some, in our defense, in direct quotes from sources). Fiske's "The Dimwit's Dictionary" says "ongoing" has "superseded practically all of its synonyms," giving us ongoing relationships, ongoing education, ongoing effort and — a favorite in these parts — ongoing investigation. It's enough to make us call Usually Reliable Source (son of the Right Rev. Highly Unimpeachable Source) for input on the means by which the female ruminant gormandized the brassicaceae. To translate, in case the Factiva word cops have an ongoing wiretap on us, that phrase basically means "how the cow ate the cabbage."
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