Thursday, December 25, 2008

Observation / Pet Peeve

Language is a constantly evolving thing, so I tend not to get too caught up by changes in it. In fact, often I revel in them, and think that people who get their noses bent out of shape by minute changes are rigidly old school (a term itself that has risen in prominence lately). As a result, I know I run the risk of sounding like an old fuddy duddy in bringing this up, but I have noticed my students using cliché as an adjective with increasing frequency, both in speech and in their papers, and it grates on me. Until this morning, I thought it was a trend that was perhaps confined to adolescence, but in the recent profile of Philip Seymour Hoffman (a peer of mine, at least chronologically) in the New York Times Magazine, the amazing character actor, commented, “It’s a cliché thing to say . . .” and I cringed.

When and how did this happen? When did the d get dropped from the adjective form of clichéd? Why is the noun form now used adjectivally? Is there any going back? Should I just mourn the soon-to-be archaic form that I grew up with and move on?

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