Words are crucial in writing of any kind, that’s what writing is all about after all. In any language, strange expressions exist, and English is no exception. Two of the ones that get my attention the most involve cheese and corn. Yes, you read that right. The expressions are synonyms, too…or maybe for the purposes of sticking with the food theme, we’ll refer to them as “cinnamons.” No? Okay, anyway.
They’re used when referring to something as cliché or predictable: “Oh, that’s so cheesy.” or “Man, is that ever corny.” So, they’re totally inter-changable. My “beef” with these expressions is that there doesn’t need to be two food related expressions that mean practically the same thing, one will suffice! Having two expressions that mean the same thing makes me confused about which one I should use and why they’re both important.
I have the same problem with other expressions that have unnecessary duplicates. We writers know that having more than one way to say something is a good thing, but there is such a thing as having too many options. So, the question is clear: Is something cheesy or corny? Which word best describes something that is cliché? Personally I tend to use “cheesy” more often than “corny”, but I don’t have a reason for that. What are your thoughts on the cheese vs. corn debate?
On another note of expressions that aren’t entirely useful, there’s the idea that sometimes they are hard (if not impossible) to explain to someone who doesn’t know them. This is especially true when someone is new to the language or doesn’t have much experience in the more colloquial part of a language. I find that I have the same problem when I am reading in Spanish or having a conversation with a native speaker. I miss some parts if it because they’re colloquial expressions that just do not translate into another language. Then, when I ask what it means, they are at a loss as to how to tell me what it means even if they are trying to find a English equivalent.
That leads me to the question of why expressions change from language to language. Shouldn’t there be a universal understanding? But, then again, languages belong to different cultures and each culture has their own customs and, thus, expressions. Each culture has a right to have their own expressions, which explains why “cheesy” is not able to be understood in other languages. I just wish that there were a couple that could go from language to langue so that everyone understood them universally. But, that’s just my opinion. Do you think that some expressions should be universal, or that different ones in each language are a good thing?
What are some expressions that you think could be totally omitted from spoken and written language? Are there some that you’re more likely to use in writing than in conversational language or vice versa? Go ahead and share them!